Howard and Marina – in search of the cycle paths.

IMG_2390 - Copy  (OK, so we look a pair of doofers here but we get better!)

I have to say that, for me, bike riding has had many highs and lows! I love being out in the fresh air but the ‘Bum Burner’ that I mentioned in my previous post, ‘Saddle to Saddle’, has continued to inflict horrendous pain in my Lady Garden area.  So much so, I intend to dedicate a whole post devoted to the female cyclist’s ‘Lady Garden‘ and how to tend it.  Now, although I haven’t hit the ground at anything like the speed and velocity that I have done from a horse, I have managed to elegantly face-plant myself into the mud and grass that had been so generously and judging from the heat, quite recently, decorated by bovines and canines! Add to this my deep-rooted and justifiable fear of traffic (or rather, some ridiculously vindictive drivers) I was keeping well and truly clear of all roads and instead opting for the tracks and bridleways along the river bank.

I believed that, aside from the occasional fridge, settee and black bin bags full of lord only knows what,  its varied terrain of long grass, deep rutted holes and sandy banks to negotiate, it would offer a great training ground. However, when the rain came I quickly learned that it is extremely difficult or, in my case, nigh on impossible to cycle through deep, wet sand.  I stuck at it for a while but as my legs whizzed round 50 to the dozen and my bike painstakingly edged forward an inch at a time, I began to wonder just how the hell I was going to squirm my way out of this stupid London to Paris challenge I had set myself.

Thankfully, all that changed the day I discovered cycle paths! The husband had insisted that I needed to get out on the road.  “What, an actual road, in actual traffic?!”  Either the man was deranged or, I had totally misled lied to him about my cycling prowess!  We had tried the roads before, a brief trip that produced throat burning screams from my lungs and saw me purposefully steering into grass verges and a ditch in my desperate bid to avoid the traffic  (actually, it was only three cars but that’s three too many for me!) Despite this, he was prepared to go out with me again and as much as I hate to admit it, I knew he was right. I squashed my helmet tight onto my head and agreed to another attempt but only on the condition that we went in search of the mystical cycle paths I had heard rumour of.

For some reason that  I have yet to fathom, many cycle paths are not very well signposted so finding them isn’t as simple as you might expect.  – {Note here to experienced cyclists – don’t be tutting and telling me I should have just looked on Strava! At that time I had never even heard of Strava, Garmin, Komoot or any of the numerous other apps that I now live my life by!}  – Instead, taking our directions from Mr. Google, we came to a path that led off the road and onto an old farm track and not knowing what to expect of a cycle path, finding ourselves in rough, overgrown grass was no great surprise to me.  Husband however, was convinced we had gone wrong and after seeing someone whizz effortlessly by at the other side of the hedge, he had, with his usual after the fact knowledge, made a theatrical sweep of his arm and shouted,   “I told you that was the cycle path over there!”  And so began the ridiculous spectacle of the two of us pushing ourselves through the prickly hawthorn and clambering over a fence as we dragged our bikes through behind us.  We looked nothing short of ridiculous and anyone would have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a scene from Last of the Summer Wine.IMG_E3751

Howard and Marina – Last of the Summer Wine 

After the removal of some ill-placed thorns and branches, we were finally able to enjoy the actual cycle path which in turn, opened up a whole new world to me! I cannot tell you how excited I was to find that the path was not only dry and beautifully maintained but also laid with tarmac, yes, tarmac! It was so easy to pedal on!  Flat, smooth and peaceful. Beautiful views stretched out before me and not a single bloody car in sight, there wasn’t even any dog poo! (well, not much)  Cheery cyclists passed us by with a wave while others cruised by offering a barely discernable nod.  I would soon learn that the ‘nod’ was the acknowledgment to expect from a ‘real’ cyclist.

So finally, I could ride with confidence. There were still many hurdles to come but I want to leave this post on the high that I had felt and my newly found optimism for the charity ride. Paris, was in my sights,  lycra clad and smiling all the way.


3 thoughts on “Howard and Marina – in search of the cycle paths.

  1. Bike paths in Australia seem to be the preferred place for yobbos and other hooligans to smash their empty glass bottles. Bike paths are used by the lycra riders (who I imagine are the intended victims) but moreso they are used by families and children. I really do fail to see the point of smashing glass on a track that they, the said smashers of bottles, so obviously use themselves. Perhaps I will blog about this one day myself.

    Like

    1. I’m really saddened to here this. I traveled around Australia (many years ago) and loved it so much. I never think of it as anything other than my perfect place in the world. We have some of the same problems here too. Thankfully, where I ride, it’s way out in the country where you don’t get many people, not even family walkers. Thanks for the feedback and I’ll be looking out for that blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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