BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

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#365daysofbiking Shroom to manoeuvre

Monday, September 28th 2020 – This journal is now so venerable that I feel it has seasonal traditions, and one of the most important to me is it’s devotion to documenting the fungus season with the many photogenic and interesting varieties of toadstool, ball, mould and slime that abound in autumn.

The mycology is tragically overlooked – it’s a huge kingdom completely different to any other, and without it life on earth could not function at all. And when it blooms and fruits, it’s stunning in its otherworldly beauty.

So far this dry autumn, there hasn’t been much fungal action but with showers in recent days hopefully the shrooms will have the trigger they need to emerge.

I’ll kick it all off this year with these humble but beautiful honey fungus, spotted by the canal in Darlaston on my way to work. Hopefully the first of many this year.

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#365daysofbiking Tones of home

Sunday, September 27th 2020 – It was a lovely autumn day of sunshine, and I wanted to be out: But fate had blessed me with a bad cold (yes, it really IS a cold…) and I felt enervated and weak.

I tried, but I just managed a slow, lazy loop of Chasewater and Chasetown, and trundled home.

The colours of the season were gorgeous in the soft sunlight, the tonal palette of which seems to be mainly shades of dark green and brown, but also blue, too.

Chasetown High Street and that remarkable hill still captivate me. It manages to look frenetic and busy even when there are few cars and even less people. An impressive achievement.

Some days you go a long way, some you barely orbit home. Today was not a day for venturing far, but near home was reassuring and gave me all I needed.

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#365daysofbiking All conkering

Saturday, September 26th 2020 – As I mentioned at my recommencement last week, there are some subjects that are staples of this journal, and I can’t believe I’m a week overdue mentioning my favourite tree: The handsome, gorgeous horse chestnut at Home Farm, Sandhills, visible from the canal at Catshill.

This noble bearing of my life is an integral part of that fine view, and has just started to get on its autumn jacket.

I tell the seasons by this tree, and I judge the weather. I’ve photographed it dawn and dusk, rain, snow, hail and shine. It’s one constant, lovely thing I rely on and feel a great sense of topophilia for – yet I don’t think I’ve ever been closer than a few hundred yards to it.

In a chaotic world, we need anchors. This tree is one of mine, and long may it remain so.

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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 The grass is always greener…

Thursday, September 24th 2020 – This healthy horse has made me smile a few times of late. Passing it at Newtown, on the A5 Watling Street in North Brownhills, it dwells in a small paddock between the footpath and canal.

I often see it atop the steep bank, craning through the fence to get to the grass on the footpath edge.

The horse is friendly and always enjoys a nuzzle when you stop and say hello.

Gorgeous animal. But I’ll never understand horses.

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#365daysofbiking Bleat it

Wednesday, September 23rd 2020 – I note sheep are grazing on some fast growing crop planted swiftly after the late summer harvest at Home Farm, Sandhills. It looks like some brassica or other, probably kale.

Sheep are an unusual sight here, as the land is solidly arable, but every now and again, a winter crop like this is grown and sheep from another farm are let loose to feed upon it for a few weeks. I guess it must me a good earner; last time was Christmas 2018, I think.

Nice to see them. Wonder if we’ll get the escapees again on the canal towpath this time?

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#365daysofbiking Slipping from one thing, into another

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020 – On the way home from work, a journey along the Black Path that runs from the Parkview Centre in Brownhills, up through Holland Park to the Watling Street.

This well known and popular route between areas of the town has existed for many years, and at the turn of the century, was incorporated in the National Cycle Network, whereupon they split it as shared use with one of those daft central kerbs that only serves to wrong-foot pedestrians, annoy joggers and wake up sleepy cyclists, like me.

Here in a quiet, leafy corner of what is after all, central Brownhills, it’s quite clear that with rain earlier and a drop in temperature, we’re slipping solidly into autumn now.

With the pandemic madness aside, it wasn’t a bad summer, meteorologically. I’ll miss it.

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#365daysofbiking Too low for comfort

Monday, September 21st 2020 – The fascination with other people’s bikes continues, as does the bafflement with some modern bike technical fashions.

In a familiar customer bike shed, a new bike I think might be a Marin is locked with a Poundland cheese string bike lock (but thankfully this shed has a very securely locked door). It’s a nice, fairly high-end equipped bike, with SRAM (that’s Sachs for the oldies) gears. It’s what I would class a ‘forest bike’ – it’s not really a full MTB but not a hybrid. It would be at home on Cannock Chase’s midway trails or rough canal towpaths.

The bike has remarkable gearing arrangement, that’s sadly fashionable – a single front ring, which is tiny and an eyewateringly wide rear sprocket range.

I note it’s been left in the lowest of gears.

Why?

The gearing is utterly rubbish for road use.

I was talking to a pal about this the other day. I’m tying to build a decent derailleur setup at the moment, but there’s no longer the crossover between road and MTB gear sets where you can get a massive range for excellent touring use by mixing and matching. It’s either this stupidity, which necessitates a huge rear mech just waiting to get smashed off by a stump, or the low range and boredom of road group sets.

I know it’s fashion, like the frankly ludicrous fat bike fad, and we’ll swing back to doubles and triples when the spinning kids want to go a bit faster than15mph downhill. But I wish it would pass.

It comes to something when a basic hub gear offers 25% wider range than most mountain group sets.

Rant over. For now.

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#365daysofbiking Overnight mooring

Sunday, September 20th 2020 – The closing in of the evenings means that there will be more night shots here as the season advances, and there are a few favourites I return to, for no other reason than I love the images they make.

At the top end of Brownhills, on the border between there and Walsall Wood, the Anchor Bridge is lovely at night. I adore this view.

The colours and light of a night shot can, counteiintuitly, be gorgeously vivid.

Quiet, contemplative scenes like this moor me through the winter until the light returns. Therapy, I think.

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#365daysofbiking Full of beans

Saturday, September 19th 2020 – My riding partner for the day was groggy and finally decided to venture out if we could ‘see some lovely villages’ in late afternoon – there was nothing for it. We piled it down the old A5 to Atherstone, and explored the country northwards in Leicestershire – Radcliffe Culey, Shenton, Market Bosworth, Barton in the Beans, Congerstone, Bilstone, and back over Orton on the Hill, Clifton and Whittington.

A lovely 70 mile sunset from near Sutton Cheney, the gorgeousness of Shenton I remember from exploring ten years ago, and the glorious run from there into Bosworth.

Leicestershire still has the best place names.

Half the ride was in the blackest of nights, and a real buzz – but a reminder that summer is now well and truly over.

Autumn so far hasn’t been so bad, though.

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