Another ride report for you all! Now, the main thing that would make these a bit more interesting would be a few photos of where I’ve been, so last night I made a point of taking my camera out with me so I could get some decent shots. But then it stayed in my bag the whole time. Well, that was successful. I finally managed to get it out for one shot about three miles before I got home, but by then the light was gone, and this is the best I could manage.
And so to illustrate the ride I shall borrow other people’s photos as I often do. Anyhow – to business.
I usually aim to do something of a circular ride rather than out and back by the same road, but last night I decided it was about time I popped in on my brother in Harpenden. (Well, about time I made a second attempt to do so after finding no-one in last time.) And as he’s about twelve miles away by the most direct route, straight there and straight back seemed a sensible option. Here’s the route:
It was a great ride. I’ve noticed something of a pattern with my rides lately. The first mile or two feel like really hard work and I wonder why I’m bothering. But once I’m through that I reach a stage where it just feels great. When I’m just swooping along, everything feels smooth and relatively effortless. That phase has got longer and longer the more I’ve ridden. And I now take a little more time to appreciate the beautiful countryside I’ve been riding through. On this ride I spotted a deer running through one of the fields alongside; and not just one of your silly little Muntjac deer that we get around the edges of Stevenage either: it was a full-on Bambi’s Mum. You know, one of these:
Unfortunately the most memorable thing about this ride was my first ever clip-in pedal related, um, incident. I got my fancy clippy pedals back at the beginning of April (as I’m sure you’ll recall) and had read that everyone falls off them sooner or later. Now, in case you’re not sure how these pedals work, here’s a summary: you have special shoes with metal cleats that clip into the pedals so you’re firmly attached, which means that you don’t waste any energy stopping your feet sliding around, thereby improving efficiency. You can also pull up at the back of the pedal stroke as well as pushing down at the front. (They are, confusingly, called “clipless” pedals to those in the know.) Of course it also means that you can’t whip your feet off the pedals so quickly when you need to. So at some stage, you just fall over. And yesterday was my first such fall. I’d pulled over for a drink of water at the top of a big climb. Here, in fact:
Someone else’s photo of Whitwell Water Tower
(From Pete Collins on Pete’s Walks.)
I’d unclipped my left foot and my right foot was still in position as I looked at the views and took a drink of water. To carry on, I needed to turn my bike around, but I was on a gravelly surface, and my front wheel slipped to the left as I turned, which immediately meant I fell to my right – where my foot was still firmly attached to the pedal. There’s nothing you can do at that stage but fall. No real damage, thankfully: a grazed knee, and a bruised hip. (I was glad that I was wearing long cycling leggings rather than shorts.) My gears were also knocked out of allighnment somewhat, but as it happened my bike was booked in for a service today anyway so all’s back as it should be.
Once I’d established that there was no real damage (except for my ego) I carried on, got to Harpenden without any further mishap and spend a wee while with my brother and his wife talking redundancy and other business matters. And having a cup of tea and a Walnut Whip, which made a change from my usual mid-ride banana.
After all this, it was nearly half past nine by the time I set off back for home, and therefor nearly half past ten by the time I got home. Which is late for one of my rides, but at least I was rewarded by seeing a good few bats flitting around in the faded light.
Couldn’t be bothered to find a picture of a bat. Enough’s enough!
Distance: 24.35 miles
Riding time: 1 hr 48 min
Average speed: 13.5 mph
Top speed: 29.2 mph