BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘good weather’

#365daysofbiking A day out of time

1st January 2021 – A ride out with Pickle on the oddest, most lovely New Year’s Day I’ve ever known. Sixty-five miles of absolute, total restorative riding. And not a moment too soon.

We set out early afternoon on a slow bimble on a sunny, bright but very windy day, marked most memorably by the warmth – it was at times 15 degrees out there. Everything was still sodden, and occasionally we rode through floodwater, but on the whole, the roads were quickly drying out and everything was very springlike.

We rode up through Hilton and Chesterfield to Shenstone, then over Shenstone Park, which looked even more like the set of the Teletubbies than it normally does. We went on up to the old A5 through Weeford and down into Hopwas and Wigginton to Syerscote, Clifton, Honey Hill, No Mans Heath, Austrey, Orton, Warton, Polesworth, Birch Coppice and Hurley. We came back up through Kingsbury Water Park, Bodymoor Heath and Carroway Head, Woodend and Stonnall.

The other thing that marked the day is that the normally grey and colourless light of this time of year was temporarily replaced by bright greens and a feeling of spring. It’s like all the time we were inside, or getting wet, we were earning this day: this ride. It was fabulous to be out in.

Pickle noted particularly the swans grazing on some winter crop of brassicas, which is important. We can’t feed waterfowl locally at the moment due to an avian flu outbreak that his killed many birds. People are concerned the swans that normally live in our parks are not able to eat – but these refugees from central Tamworth have flown out to dine al fresco on what the farmland has to offer, and as Pickle said, they seemed very socially distanced.

Clifton Hall continued to bewilder – the twin, red brick, foursquare mansions that were apparently intended to be one, but the wings were built first, and the central part never completed. Pickle observed that it was probably a good house for a couple that were no longer communicating well, but still in love. She’s probably right.

I had no idea it had been derelict for many years and only refurbished and inhabited relatively recently.

You can find out about Clifton Hall here.

As we reached the crossover point between day and night – I love the concept of civil twilight – we laboured up Honey Hill, on the road out of Clifton towards the junction of four counties at No Mans Heath. Honey Hill is a hard climb, windswept, and generally a summer place: But today it was just right. The views commanded were beautiful, and the ride had really encouraged a spirit of optimism for the year to come.

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#365daysofbiking The long valley road

Sunday, October 11th 2020 – My wish was granted: It was a great day when the sun shone and the countryside steamed in the warm October sun. Sadly I didn’t get out until late afternoon, but still managed 70 miles.

I’d been wanting to do the Churnet Valley in autumn for years: The cycleway from Denstone on the old rail line, and Red road from Alton to Oakamoor were made for the season. I came back down the valley via Farley and Wootton Deer Park to Ellastone which was an absolutely magical golden hour ride on lanes I’d never ridden before: Thoroughly gorgeous and captivating. I must return.

The Churnet Valley – best known for the execrable Alton Towers theme park – is actually one of Staffordshire’s most wonderful places and is so much more than the gimcrack fairground attraction and is almost – with that imperious castle overlooking – a mini Loire Valley.

I came back via Ellastone, Marston and Sudbury, then blasted with the wind behind me down the A515. I just wish there had been more time.

What a difference a day made.

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#365daysofbiking Gorge-ous

Friday, September 25th 2020 – Working in Telford, as I left work the light was lovely and it was a beautiful evening. So I headed down the Silkin Way and then across Madeley down to Ironbridge, and then rode home.

I love Ironbridge when it’s quiet and this evening was absolutely delightful.

In the golden hour, the village clinging to the sides of the Severn Gorge was captivating.

The ride home along the gorge, and back through Albrighton, Codsall and Coven was very nippy though and I wasn’t prepared – it’s starting to get quite cold out there now, even on sunny days like this.

I must return here when autumn starts to really set in. I bet the colours are wonderful.

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#365daysofbiking Consumption

Today, a tentative restart.
Firstly, an apology:

  • I have been rather ill, tired and on my knees.
  • Work was about all I could do for weeks. A period of working from home drove me very low indeed. I love to be out with people in my niche, the isolation was very bad for me.
  • I am recovering physically and mentally, and my distance cycling is back, and now commute both ways to work again. For a period I drove one way, rode home and back, drove home and back etc.
  • Like all of us, the pandemic has been strange.
  • What’s been stopping me updating is I have all the photos for the missing days, but I’m just so far behind, catching up is daunting. *I will fill the gap but have to work out a system to do it*

I’ll be honest. I’ve cycled every day even though I’ve not been posting, even if only up the road and back on very ill days.

It’s time to kick this thing back off. Thanks for your concern, and I’m sorry. I’m rebooting. It may take a while, specifically with the main blog. I am not young these days. I get tired. But I still love this place, my rides within in, and I still have the wide eyed wonder I always did.

Thanks for your care and patience.

Monday, September 14th 2020 – A summer like morning commute to Darlaston that was unnaturally warm and pleasant, but in the shadows and shade, the nip of autumn lurked, and the dew was heavy, a sure harbinger of Autumn.

At the far end of Victoria Park in Darlaston, a tree on the margin of the marsh and footpath continues to consume the fence that passed too closely.

I’ve watched this tree consume those steel bars for over a decade and the tree is still in rude health, despite my suspicion at one point that it was diseased.

I’ve always adored the almost pyroclastic flow over the footpath.

Trees like this are a constant to me, and as I return to this journal after too long away, it seems appropriate that since last mentioned here, the tree has grown, aged, but remained – a marker for me that probably very few notice.

Onwards, and into autumn. You coming with me?

 

#365daysofbiking Life’s better by water

May 15th – As I get older and older, I find it much harder to explain to those younger, or newcomers to this town just how much things have improved here since I was a kid.

This is not trivial, or frivolous: The town I grew up in was poor, suffered terrible pollution from industry and and refuse tip at it’s heart, the waterways were rubbish filled ditches and there were very few of the trees here there are today.

I grew up in a smelly, wildlife-free post industrial wasteland.

Now, the waterways are limpid, but full of life; the smells and pollution have all but gone. Everywhere is green with trees and hedgerows. I regularly see deer, foxes and all manner of birds and bugs.

On a sunny, beautiful Friday evening in the golden hour, quiet in lockdown, it was hard to believe what this place once was.

But the memory will never fade.

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#365daysofbiking As the light begins to fade

May 13th – I have come to the conclusion over the years that my favourite time of day in summer is the hour or so straddling sunset. The twilight time is when the wildlife starts to stir, when people drift home and the landscape shimmers in the evening cool.

I headed back from Chasewater to Brownhills as the light was fading, and was reminded of how beautiful the canal is here: The green overhanging trees, the reflections and peaceful separation from the road traffic.

If the saying is true that it’s always five o’clock somewhere, then it must always be twilight somewhere in my heart, too.

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#365daysofbiking Happy valley

May 9th – A run into Birmingham the day before had me hankering for the Sandwell Valley. I had errands to do, and the park is on the route between West Browmwich and Rushall Junction on the Tame Valley Canal, so what better chance to pay it a visit?

It was on my return I chose to visit the park: With snacks in the saddlebag and a cooling alcohol free G&T I enjoyed a small, private picnic overlooking Swan Pool.

It was busy with walkers, runners, cyclists and promenading families, but everything was well distanced and pleasant.

And while I sat cross legged and munching, the late afternoon sun warmed my soul and the azure blue sky, reflected in the water, was gorgeous.

A very welcome afternoon of clarity and peace.

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#365daysofbiking Hoked on sunsets

May 7th – It was a decent sunset and I was in Walsall Wood. That’s always frustrating, because there aren’t any very good vantage points to take one in around that area.

Then I caught the sunset over Walsall Wood Bridge past Rod, the Walsall Wood angler, who bears an uncanny resemblance to David Evans, gentleman of the parish.

It didn’t work out so bad. Shame they never sorted out the purloined fish…

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#365daysofbiking – Regardless


April 25th – Saturday morning, again shockingly quiet despite protests of ‘too many people ignoring the lockdown’ on social media. Brownhills and the countryside around it simmered gently in the warm sun.

Things are greening over nicely now. The azolla bloom on the canal is gradually decreasing and everything looked magnificent.

I need to record and cherish these times, for they will, I think, get me through future bad ones. These times when you can enjoy the peace of the old cement works bridge or the view over Home Farm and not hear traffic, not see people but just drink in the warmth, the season and the song of birds and the buzz of bees.

Nature is regardless of human woes and that’s a good reason to keep taking the next steps.

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#365daysofbiking Softening

April 21st – The evening exercise rides are getting a bit samey and I think I need to vary my palette a wee bit – but it’s quite hard with beauty like this not five minutes out of town.

I took a spin up to Ogley Junction from Brownhills: Just a short, lazy loop from Silver Street. The canal and fields near home farm looked spendid in the warm, softening evening sun.

Machinery is once more on the half-ploughed field, which is interesting, and the oilseed rape is now in full bloom, too.

I never, ever tire of this place. It’s so gorgeous.

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