Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Solo cycle touring

As I look out of the door of my tent across the scrubby mendip fields the sun is setting beyond the far drystone wall and the sky is a fiery mix of pinks, oranges and purples. Two crows squabble in the trees next to me and just beyond the stile in front of the tent, ponies contentedly graze in the last of the pale March light. I have set up my little tent which looks irresistably snug. The contrast with the noise, dirt and business of Bristol earlier today couldn't be more acute.

So, this is the first day of my first solo cycling trip. Before setting off I popped into my local cycling shop and took the precaution of buying a portable pump, two inner tubes, a puncture repair kit and two pink tyre levers. If I get a puncture I have no idea what to do about it but at least I have the equipment when I flag down a passing cyclist and demand assistance.

It is a bit daunting going alone, especially taking into account my lack of bicycle expertise. I wish now I had booked onto one of the heavily subsidised bike maintenance courses run by the local authority, but of course I had not bothered. Oh well, lets hope for the best.

I headed out of Bristol on the 'Whitchurch Path', Sustran's route south out of the city. It's not too bad, much better than cycling up the hideous A37 anyway, making use of an old railway path up to Stockwood and then crossing the said A37 before taking back lanes to Chew Magna. This is Route Three which I had decided to follow to Priddy. At times I regretted sticking slavishly to the Sustrans route, especially just after Chew Magna where the route did a big loop round before ending up not too far from where it started. Weird. After Chew Valley Lake was the bit I was dreading - the climb up onto the Mendip plateau. Its a sod. A steep winding climb endlessly up the hill. At about halfway I got off and pushed the rest of the way, but with a loaded bike its not clear which is more difficult, riding or pushing. Then at the top Route Three makes an abrupt right turn and heads off west for a while before swinging round and heading all the way back east into Priddy, presumably in an effort to avoid main roads. So, I would estimate at least six "Sustrans Miles"in addition to the eighteen or so regular ones, although I don't have a mile counter so all mileage is a guesswork on this trip. Maybe I'll work it out when I get home. Anyway its seven oclock so time for a trip to Hunters Lodge Inn for some lovely beer and hopefully a cauliflower cheese. I'll keep the laptop and phone out of sight though or Roger will defitnitely bar me.

 My route is here

No comments:

Post a Comment