Disused railways.

10°C, brisk NW, grey sky and the rain has finished for now.

I rode Cyclocross with MapMyRide+! Distance: 19.3mi, time: 01:41:30, pace: 5:16min/mi, speed: 11.4mi/h.


Took a familiar route on canals and disused railway tracks. For variety, there are side tracks that are rideable including this one in the photo. It’s a rail bridge that is closed off, rather crudely with tree trunks. You can see over if you climb up, but there is only farmland beyond.
This track looks like trail bikes have hewn a route in footpaths. They undulated so that it was almost possible to propel yourself along by pushing the bars up and down like a kid’s rocking horse.
Finding places like this is the great thing about cyclocross.

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Cold dry start.

I rode Fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 50.1mi, time: 03:08:57, pace: 3:46min/mi, speed: 15.9mi/h.
Cold dry start with light breeze from the north. Quite a contrast with yesterday’s blazing sunshine. I ducked out of Bannister Hill but went up Dalton instead.
Decent ride overall but sad to see roadkill hares. Both were males, probably full of young enthusiasm for the spring. Oh, the needless destruction. I despair.
Yesterday’s sunset on Formby beach. That sky was clear right down to the horizon. Breathtaking.

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Long shadows

15°C, no wind, no cloud either.
Spectacular weather, not a cloud right down to the horizon. Even the usual haze near the horizon was minimal.


We watched two men on horseback ride by. One said “he’s going” and they broke into a gallop. As they thundered and chuffed by, the sound echoed. The echo was strange, it twanged in one direction, at a right angle to the sand ripples. They must have picked up the sounds at wavelengths that match the ripples in the photo.

Long shadows near to sunset cart long shadows. Even small surface forms stand out. This part of the beach reminds me of a fingerprint. If I get time later, I will run part of this site through a fingerprint reader.
Oh, hold on. I don’t have one.

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Brown-field site.

12°C, dry with white cloud and weak easterly.
I love this time of year. My fascination for the inner city wasteland is greatest now until June.


Here is the first shoots of artimesia absinthium, (or is it vulgaris). This plant still holds its spell, not just because Chernobyl day is soon. The photo was taken in Walsall on the site of a demolished factory near work. They like sandy, slightly acidic soil and are most easily found on brown-field sites.
If only they would grow in my garden. The soil is too rich after all my efforts to feed it with compost.
The continuing recession should give these plants a chance to flower and set seed. That patch of land is for sale but there are no indications of a buyer yet. I expect it will be bought by a developer who builds tiny flats as “affordable homes”.
For me, there is always a little disappointment when these plots are dug up.

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Freedom evening ride.

I rode Arrow with MapMyRide+! Distance: 35.21mi, time: 02:09:06, pace: 3:40min/mi, speed: 16.37mi/h.
Fast commute: crystal clear sky and warm air, that generates a lot of energy. As I got near Whittington, the Freedom cycles group passed, so I joined. It was an informal ride for them but a fast commute for me. Some splits were 23mph.
I claim a prize for the oldest bike in the group, 20 years and loaded with a bag on the rack. The others were on alloy or carbon bikes with nice light wheels like Aksiums.
This morning I will ride, but my legs are sore. I hope that will clear with a more gentle commute today.
Tempting to put the Shimano wheels on the Arrow though.

Found this guy in the shed this morning. He must have got in while the door was open as the sun went down. He wouldn’t survive another day in there, so I rescued him in a jar.
I got home too late to eat supper in the garden last night.

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0.8 miles: POP!

17°C, milky sun and no wind.
Started out on the Jake with the commuting wheels fitted. They have Schwalbe Durano tyres for the fast but puncture resistance. Less than a mile out a sharp high pop rang out. Instantly the front tyre was flat as I made a right-turn on a busy A road.
Rather than fix it there, I walked back to get the other bike.
Here is the puncture:


Part of the tube is actually missing. Looks to me like the tube was pinched inside the rim and chose a bad moment to burst.

I rode fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 36.04mi, time: 02:15:09, pace: 3:45min/mi, speed: 16.00mi/h.
Plan B, grab the fixed bike, the Paddy Wagon and rode the same route. For only the second time this year I got up Bannister Hill. This time was on the higher 42×16 gear. No serious struggle today.
Those wheels are brilliant. So fast and nimble.
later: it turns out that the climb up Bannister Hill was my personal record 9′.08″.

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Drying mud.

17°C, sun and negligible wind. Dry.

I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 18.4mi, time: 01:47:20, pace: 5:51min/mi, speed: 10.3mi/h.
Better weather brings dry air and warm sun. Each day sees the ground becoming dryer and firmer.
I alternated rides this week on the CX and fixed bikes. Each is getting faster.
Today, the canals were less busy, only a few lonely anglers and couples walking dogs. Between them, I built up the speed reaching 17mph along some towpaths. It still requires considerable concentration, but there is less squelching around in black mud and nervously negotiating bridge cobbles.


The bike has thin mud at the back, but some of it smells of dog shit.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the country basks in sunshine.

I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 18.4mi, time: 01:47:20, pace: 5:51min/mi, speed: 10.3mi/h.
Plod around some canal towpaths in figure-8 routes. On one bridge, a family stopped while dad fixed the lad’s puncture. That was his role for the day.
The mud is more viscous now and the thorns seemed to soften. Anyway, no punctures today either.

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Started quickly.

I rode Fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 51.9mi, time: 03:15:43, pace: 3:46min/mi, speed: 15.9mi/h.
Started this ride in sprightly fashion and zipped along, often at 20mph. The climb up to Dalton was fine too, though I avoided Bannister Hill later.
While much of England basked in sunshine, here is misty under thick cloud.
As the sun burnt through, an interesting effect was visible in brown fields. Only the ploughed dark fields had a duvet of white mist up to about 6ft above. In places it rolled over hedges or gathered into conical convection structures.


Mist near Hesketh Bank.

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Canal 9.

I rode CX with MapMyRide+! Distance: 9.05mi, time: 45:51, pace: 5:04min/mi, speed: 11.84mi/h.
Very short ride along the canal in golden sunshine. A reminder of the coming season.
No punctures, but these wheels do feel a little heavy. It manifests as a weight when riding out of the saddle, or on cornering.
Continue reading

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