BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘New Year’

#365daysofbiking The thinness of the air, and turning for home

31st December 2021 – It’s been a weird old Christmas. The weather has been the worst over the holiday period I’ve known in many years: Pretty much constant rain and drizzle for over a week.

The festive period is normally an opportunity for us to get out on some seriously nice rides – often in the lead up to Christmas, the traditional Christmas and Boxing Day rides, and there’s usually good fun to be had in the period up to and including new year.

But not this time. The ceaseless downpour has meant that although I’ve been cycling every day, it’s been for utility only; delivering presents or cards, seeing friends and relatives, going to the pub, getting shopping in or getting fresh air.

Every journey has been in waterproofs, and I’ve come back sodden. It’s not been nice.

But on New Year’s Eve, a day I usually hate, the rain stopped. The sun came out. But odder than that, it was warm. And I mean, really warm: 14 degrees. It was like spring out there.

I set off later than I’d planned with my young pal for a loop around the local area, as we had an errand to do in Lichfield, and another in Burntwood.

The riding was fast and easy: There was a strong wind, but frankly, it didn’t matter. Up over Stonnall, Thornes, and the backlanes into Shenstone – but as we neared the village on the hill, we realised something was different. The old, ruined thirteenth century church tower – a remnant of an older, nicer church before the gothic horror that stands today was born of Victorian hubris – was sheathed in plastic sheeting and scaffold. It seems to be undergoing renovation. This is interesting, as it’s been derelict for all of the 40 or more years I’ve been riding around here.

It seems that a group have got together, raised money and are renovating the tower to save it out of charity and community spirit. Yet again, communities pay for Church of England neglect, it seems. But the plan is good and seemingly very competent. Searching when we got home we found the tower has a website here which is pretty useful on history, but not on the future. For that, we found Lichfield Live had reported plans to add a viewing platform to the tower last March. To my surprise, these have been approved.

I do hope this will be open to the public periodically. I bet the view is incredible. I salute those undertaking this project – it’s remarkable. This has largely passed me by over the summer and is an indication of my failure to ride much that ways on last year. I must rectify the neglect.

Further on, we caught a fair sunset up at Chesterfield, between Shenstone and Wall – any sunset is a bonus right now. Pickle caught it well, as she did a somnambulant, subdued Lichfield. The bars seemed busy but the streets less so. As ever, the festive lights and night sky combined with the muted, orange street lighting to make a magic that Pickle was all too keen to capture.

Returning down the wonderful Chasetown High Street, Pickle noted that the Christmas lights were switched off, but it didn’t matter, as it’s always festive at night on the beautifully lit, inclined High Street. I don’t really know what it is about Chasetown, but it shares the phenomena with Walsall Wood. At night, it always seems much busier than it actually is, and has a lovely homely, soft glow to it.

As New Year’s Eve rides go, this has been the best for a few years. We both enjoyed the absence of rain, and the thin, clear air. Such a change from the last couple of weeks… But as we stood at Chasewater, with nothing but the sound of water lapping against the dam, we reflected on the year gone. It’s been hard. There have been times when I wondered if I’d ever do another long ride again. But there has also been great joy: Recovery, the longed for autumn long rides, the return to the outdoors, the sharing of moments like this.

So we turned for home feeling positive, and light with the optimism of a new riding year ahead. There will be winter yet, yes – but spring and the daffodils and cowslips. Long rides on the Moorlands and Peaks. Green on the trees and hedgerows. Summer days and cafe stops and ice cream, and even the odd pub garden. It’s all to come. It was impossible not to face the prospect with an open, happy heart.

Happy new year to you all.

Thank you too for all of your messages of support and encouragement over the last week. Dry Valleys summed it up when he said you cannot serve from an empty vessel. For a while, I was empty. But now… I am feeling somewhat replenished.

Thank you to the wonderful community that support me here.

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#365daysofbiking Not fade away

Monday January 3rd 2021 – Back to work, with the country seemingly in limbo, with a government unsure whether to put us in full lockdown or not. Another year, more dire politicians.

I came home on a wet evening along a very wet canal, and hopped off the towpath at Anchor Bridge. As I rounded the corner onto the High Street, it occurred to me to try a photo of the canal – another semi-regular night photography muse I hadn’t tried with the new camera.

I love how the colours are strong here at night, and never really fade. It’s one of those timeless views I guess.

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#365daysofbiking Gaining already

Sunday January 2nd 2021 – A day of pre-back to work bike maintenance and cleaning, so only time for a short test ride to check everything was OK. Which was sensible anyway, as during the day the temperature had risen and the snow had melted, leaving behind muddy, unpleasant road conditions.

Looking at the bike computer as I left, I noticed the sunset time was now already at 5 minutes past 4 – around the shortest day is was 3:53. 11 minutes clawed back from the sunset already.

By the end of January, we will have gained pretty much an hour.

This is very good reason to be cheerful.

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#365daysofbiking In the dying hours

December 31st – So it was in the dying hours of 2019 I found myself at Ogley Junction, where I spent much longer than expected. I watched, and listened and thought about my surroundings: An owl over the old boatyard, traffic on the A5. Headlights on Middleton Bridge. The flashes of distant fireworks.The chatter of waterfowl disturbed by a fox.

This year has been arduous, and in places, very hard indeed. Keeping this journal is and has been personally challenging in terms of time and effort required, but I’m so attached to it I wouldn’t dream of stopping now. It’s an addiction.

I may, however, do more days with one post rather than two when busy in future. But my aim is true, I still love this thing, this place and the environment I ride in.

Thank you for following me for another year. I have no idea why you do so, but it’s most welcome. And in the dark and quiet of that old bridge, it didn’t really matter: The attachment I felt was key in those fading, dying, terminal hours of 2019.

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#365daysofbiking Waiting for renewal

December 31st – New Years Eve is not a great time for me. I loathe the enforced jollity, the fake optimism for a time beyond an arbitrary boundary and the excess it engenders. I much prefer the days after, when everything settles and normality returns, with the opening out of the days and the promise of good times to come.

Stuck doing bike maintenance all day to keep busy, a test ride around the canal was fun after tea – the towpaths are starting to dry out a bit and the riding was fast and fun.

Brownhills looked festive but somnambulant and was actually very quiet apart from the odd burst of fireworks.

An unexpectedly fun ride.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here

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#365daysofbiking Hunkered down



December 31st – I’m so not a fan of New Year’s Eve. The forced jollity, camaraderie and excuse for overindulgence just depresses me, so I tend to sit it out at home, until the madness passes.

Today, I slipped out after dark for a windy, cold spin to Chasewater, which was peaceful but resounding to the call of thousands of unseen, roosting gulls.

The M6 Toll was beautiful in it’s eerie emptiness too.

Happy new year everyone, here’s to a better 2019 and I wish you all the best – and thanks for following along.

This journal is moving home. Please find out more by clicking here.

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January 1st – I wasn’t well, and didn’t go far. Not overindulgence from the previous evening – I partook of no alcohol at all on New Year’s Eve – but the recurring IBS I sometimes get, thankfully very rarely these days.

I was also drowning under a sea of paperwork I had to complete for work, which always drives me mad. At least the day was wet, so I didn’t miss good riding time…

I spun up Walsall Wood on an errand, and hopped off the canal at Hollander’s Bridge and took a quick shot of Binary Mews. It still disappoints me that the addresses here don’t go 1,10,11,100,101 etc…

Passing St. John’s, I forgot to note this year that the Christmas tree in the Churchyard – donated as it always is by the local councillors – was looking splendid this year with a new set of coloured lights. The generosity of the politicians is noted, and appreciated.

I welcome 2017, and a return to normality. When my stomach settles, of course.

December 31st – I looped back into Brownhills, and took in one of my favourite night photography muses – Silver Street and the canal at night. I never get tired of this, the interaction of lights, architecture and water are always lovely.

Looking back to the flats, soon this view will change. The market place – deserted for 5 years – will be houses, and as the development towards the flats completes, life and light will return to the canal side, transforming the character once more.

Change is what I guess this journal is all about, and as ever, I welcome it, as I grudgingly welcome 2017.

Happy new year to all readers and followers. Here’s to peace, prosperity and happiness to you all, wherever you follow me from.

December 31st – A bit of a bug and a mountain of admin and accounts paperwork for work kept me home, but the weather wasn’t great. I slipped out at teatime, and sped along the darkened canal through Brownhills to Chasewater. 

There was no moonlight, and for once, Chasewater in the dark was uninspiring but not so the M6 Toll. For once quite busy, I waited for a gap in the traffic which bunches strangely.

I’m not keen on new year, to be honest; I dislike the forced jollity and felt quite down; but as ever, a ride on my cyclic antidepressant did the trick.

December 31st – Well, another year gone under the wheels and it’s not been a bad year. My health has been generally improving, and we didn’t have a bad spring and summer. The autumn was spectacular, and just this wet, oh so warm and wet winter has been wearing me down.

This evening, drenched and wind-battered at Catshill Junction, I stopped to reflect.

Despite the webbed feet and permanent patina of mud and wet grit, I feel happy I’ve seen it trough – coming very close to four years of cycling every day, and a few months off five years from when I started this journal.

I didn’t get in as many long rides as I planned, but commuting has been consistent, and I’m still enjoying being part of the environment that surrounds me. And all the way I’ve had you guys along with me.

Happy new year to you all – lets hope for a dry new year. May there always be wind at your back, sun on you face and speed in your wheels.

Here’s to 2016, and the return of the light.