BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘sunset’

#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 Seeing it out and moving on

New Year’s Eve, Thursday December 31st 2020 – I really hate New Year’s Eve. I’m so glad it’s curtailed this year – the forced jollity and camaraderie, coupled with the ‘we will have fun!’ attitude really kills it for me.

But there is one tradition I always uphold at the year end: A reflective ride to somewhere quiet, to think about the year and in my own way, see it out.

And like most folk, I’m bloody happy to see this one out of the door in person. With bare hands, if necessary, and a large blunt weapon. It’s safe to say it’s been a terrible year.

The pandemic has been awful for us all, and the future, at least until we get the population vaccinated, looks very uncertain. Yet all most of us want, me included, is things back to normal. To be able to stop at a country cafe or pub again. To meet friends. To be with family.

In the dead, icy calm of Chasewater, we rode up the frozen snow to the top of the pit mound as night fell, and waited in the still for night to properly come in. There wasn’t a soul around apart from me and my pal: From here, we could hear the terminal seconds of this terrible year ticking away. It felt good; cleansing.

Back down at the dam, on the way back it was very cold, but the lake so beautifully peaceful: Until a raptor disturbed the gull roost which must have been several tens of thousands strong. The cacophonous taking to flight of the flock was stunning, as was the similarly swift return to peace.

My word this year has been tough – but not as tough as it has been for many, I’ve been lucky. But it has affected me and I feel it deeply. And I’m sorry, readers, that I abandoned this journal for a few months in summer. I just couldn’t cope with it at that time. I’m sorry I let you down. I promise I will not waver again.

So here’s to a new year, with maybe better prospects. Hopefully we’ll meet again this time next year – with a full year’s photos between – and recall this year as a past, distant and very bad memory.

Here’s to that thought. Happy new year to you all: Let us not dwell on the past. We must move on.

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#365daysofbiking Becalmed

Sunday December 27th 2020 – The storm passed overnight, with a lot of rain but thankfully the fierce winds didn’t last. I was itching to explore so headed out on the A5 and A51 to Hopwas, and on through Wigginton, Syerscote, Haunton, Harlaston, Edingale, Sittles, then through Fradley and Hanch, back home through Farewell, Boney Hay, Chase Terrace and Chasewater.

The real beauty was in the Croxall and Sittles area as the last of the sunset caught the trees and sodden landscape in almost total silhouette; but those Christmas Lights at Croxall Hall were truly stunning.

A great, exhilarating 50 mile ride that left me happier, and calmer. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so good!

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#365daysofbiking Dark light

Monday December 14th 2020 – I have no idea why, but sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a strange twilight that conveys not light, but darkness. It happens at dusk, often with low, patchy cloud on days that have been changeable.

The light takes on an almost oily quality. The view here is normally fairly open over the canal to Clayhanger Bridge, but this evening’s light, in it’s contrast and dingy shadow, make it look confined and closed.

I’ve no idea what this is technically about, but it’s fascinating.

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#365daysofbiking Approaching zero

Sunday November 22nd 2020 – I slipped out late afternoon on errands, and caught the sunset at Chasewater, as beautiful as ever, but the riding was fast and easy so I headed in a loop over to Castle Ring, Dollymaker Hill and Stoneywell, returning via Fulfen and Burntwood. It was a great ride.

I always feel shocked you can see Dudley Castle from Gentleshaw.

I’m pleased I changed over to winter tyres a couple of weeks ago; as I neared home I felt the familiar crackle of freshly gritted roads for the first time this season – the cold nights were clearly coming in. We were expecting a frost, and the temperature hovered around two degrees.

I felt cold, and my forehead and ears burned; but it was mostly a lovely night ride. I must do this more often.

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#365daysofbiking Across the water

Saturday November 6th 2020 – A trip to Lichfield on an errand was necessary and it looked like a decent sunset so I headed to the pools – Stowe and Minster – to catch the Cathedral and misty salmon-pink views of the city.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s such a local cliche – those spires over the water, the reflection, the windows. But it is gorgeous and it’s never really the same twice. I love it, I really do.

Sometimes, it may not be original but you just have to do it…

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#365daysofbiking Home guard

Wednesday November 4th 2020 –  Working from home I left at sunset expecting to find a great sunset, but was thwarted by cloud; the disappointment was lessened, though by the lovely pink fading light over Home Farm at Sandhills.

Working from is difficult for me. I don’t mind it on odd days, but I need my commute and fresh air, and I need to be in my place at work with my things around me; during the first lockdown working from home made me very low indeed. I’m determined no to go there again.

I will continue to enjoy sights like this and must have my air and light. This time around, with another lockdown coming, I will of course obey the rules but I cannot allow myself to get as low as last time.I will continue to ride as long as I can.

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#365daysofbiking Taking the Derbyshire hundreds

Friday, October 30th 2020 – There was a weekend of bad weather forecast, so I took the opportunity to get a long ride in – and aimed for a century, to test my fitness.

I achieved 110 miles, and returned to places I’ve not been in some years. I was very pleased, and the ride was exhilarating and beautiful.

It rained a couple of times, and I got wet, but it didn’t matter. Up the A515 to Sudbury, over to Scropton and Hatton, up through Shirley and Hole in the Wall to Hognaston Winn and it’s alien-like navigation beacon via the daunting Madge Hill. Sunset came and followed me up the High Peak Trail from Middleton Top to Parsley Hay, whereupon I headed to Ashbourne on the Tissington Trail in the blackest of nights.

The night run back via Alkmonton, Foston, Tutbury, Barton Gate, Yoxall, Hanch and Chorley was gorgeous and challenging.

Autumn on the trails and lanes of Derbyshire is a bit treacherous, but a fun ride: But as ever, the bleak, beautiful countryside of Derbyshire and East Staffordshire was the star.

It’s great to be back in the game at last. I thought I’d never make it.

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#365daysofbiking In denial

Saturday, October 17th 2020 – A great ride really that didn’t turn out as planned. I was heading for the Churnet Valley again, and rather than take the boring road up over Willslock and through Uttoxeter to Denstone, I decided to wind may way through villages to the west of there.

I was beset by mechanical problems in the first 20 miles. And it rained that horrid, fine rain that slowly but surely dissolves your determination, by getting into your clothes and just by being no fun at all. But against my better judgment, I pressed on.

And as I neared Alton, the sun started shining weakly, and the rain abated. I found beautiful views and a lovely ford near Hollington, and in the dying hours of daylight the Churnet Valley was as gorgeous as I’d hoped.

I had planned to do a loop up Ousal Dale and Dimmings Dale but it was such tough going up Ousal Dale that I decided to leave the valley via Oldfurnace and Greendale, which were gorgeous in their sunset, with the smoke-wreathed cottaged particularly enchanting.

I headed home to complete the 70 miler though a gorgeous sunset at Crakemarsh and up Buttermilk Hill in the dark, Marchington Woodlands and Hoar Cross, accompanied by a soundtrack of owls.

The windmill at Longdon and Black Swan at Smeltingmill were lovely treats, too.

A ride that started badly but finished rather well.

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