Monday, July 28, 2008

My Awesome 80-mile* bike ride

I thought my little diversions about burning piers and silly memes would keep you distracted while I put this pots together, but apparently not. It seems some of you are paying attention.

And no, you can't have a lollipop. Because I said so.

After cleaning and re-oiling the gears on my bike, tightening and re-balancing the brakes, I set off yesterday morning at 10:40. It was a beautiful day, and already hot. I followed National Cycle Route 4 from Bristol to Bath, and then on to Devizes via Bradford-on-Avon along the Kennet and Avon Canal. I kept to the minimum allowable clothing, a sports bra and bike shorts. (Sorry, not photo of that.) Here is a series of pictures I took to document my journey.

Along the Avon Valley Antique Railway I spotted this gem of sarcastic graffiti:

As I was crossing over the River Avon (and stopping to eat some malt loaf), I saw this lovely red canal barge pass under the bridge. This is a bit of the Avon I know well, as it's part of the stretch of water where I scull. I've been under this bridge hundreds of times myself!

On the other side of Bath it was a bit quieter (just a bit, mind) but this wee faun didn't seem to mind all the families out enjoying the sunday sunshine:

An aquaduck! It's hard to tell from this photo (I couldn't get a higher vantage point), but this aquaduct on the K&A canal crosses over the River Avon, which is about 60 feet below. (That's my bright green bike in the foreground.)

A typical stretch of canal: peaceful and shady. Looooooooovely.

My dream home:

Thistles and lustrife in a cottage garden so charming Miss Marple herself would barf a rainbow at the sight.

*Proof! At this point I am 11 miles past Bath, which is 17 miles from Bristol, and I still have 10 to go. (I realize that doesn't quite add up to 40, but it's close. Work with me here.)

There's not much in this photo. I just liked the banding effect of the blue sky, ripe wheat, and green aquatic grass thingys.

An obliging heron:

Haystacks! Eat your heart out, Claude.

Yellow water lilies behind pink things. What do I look like, a botanist? Oh, yeah. *slinks away*

The Caen Hill Locks. This photo doesn't do them justice. This is one fucking spectacular piece of Victorian engineering. Absolutely astounding.

I wanna uh I wanna uh I wanna uh I wanna uh I wanna really really really really wanna Zig-a-Zig ah! (and Himself.)
We had a delightful time. Ziggi and Himself came to pick me up at the Devizes sports center, which was an easy landmark, right off the canal, and I know it because Pirate has played cricket there on several occasions. They took me back to their house and Ziggi made a very yummy lunch with chicken and potato salad and rolls. I was offered copious quantities of happy-making beverages (and I must say that the strawberry wine was especially scrummy), we sat by the pond-fountain-waterfeaturewithfish thing and talked all afternoon about life, politics, what have you. There were creature comforts in the forms of Fern, Suze, the Fredster, the rabbits, and Dolce the cat (who left large quantities of fluffitude on my shirt). What a great day!

On the way back I snapped this photo of the Locks from the top looking down. You can't see the series of locks well from this angle, but the sky is pretty.

That's a little better. (And yes, I had to ride all the way up that hill on the path to the left to reach this point. This at the end of a near 40-mile journey! Going back down again was fucking great, I can tell you.)

My favorite photo of the day: the pub beside the Bradford-on-Avon marina, with a hot air balloon. (If you click the bigness you will see the balloon is doing a burn, too!)

Close-up of the balloon. Hang on, what the fuck's that on the side? It's the porn balloon!

Another aquaduck. Even though I had a fairly high vantage point for this, you still don't get the sense of the valley that bridge is spanning.

Ah, that's better. I took this photo standing in the middle of the above aquaduct, looking off to the left. See what I mean now?

How stunning is this light? It was raining when I took this at about 9:30 in the evening. I was still east of Bath, and had about 20 miles to go to get home. My legs were fine. For the time being.

Just before getting in to Bath I spotted this unconventional, hippie-occupied canal boat. The chap who lived in was very friendly (and very attractive if I'm being honest. In another life, I totally would have.)

He has cool, homemade sculpture on the front of his boat. It reminded me of the water creature in The Abyss.

A field of asters

Entering Bath. This photo really doesn't capture the twinkliness of the city in the twilight.

Bath Abby. No, I did not steal this photo from their website. I took this myself, last night, with my fully automated little digital camera. Not bad for a total amateur, huh? (except you can see the handles of my bike in the foreground. whoops.)

After that it was too dark for much photography. I got home at about 11. It took me 3 hours and 40 minutes on the way out, and 4 hours coming back. By the time I was 10 miles from Bristol my legs were starting to shake. Fortunately the last few miles are the easiest.

Today I am fine. The only evidence of my journey, besides the photos, are
--> the blister on my ass
--> my incredibly tight right hamstring
--> the layers and layers of dust and filth caked on to my bike, which was sparkling clean at the outset.

It was a brilliant trip, and I will definitely take more pedal-powered roadtrips in the future.


CompuNerd said...

"*Proof! At this point I am 11 miles past Bath, which is 17 miles from Bristol, and I still have 10 to go. (I realize that doesn't quite add up to 40, but it's close. Work with me here.)

I'll have to share your math skills with your old math teacher to show just how much you learned. :)

CompuNerd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donnnnn said...

Awesome expedition. Lovely travelogue and lunch avec Zig! I am sooo jealous..what a doll..did you throw some change and make a wish in her fishpondthingamabob?

This is exactly how I imagined the countryside would be..the only thing missing would be fair skinned Ladies in Edwardian Dresses and parasols.

Brilliant. Three cheers for being so incredibly athletic, esthetic, and photographic.


Chaucer's Bitch said...

C/nerd: I'm sure she'll be relieved to know that after all these years I can still do simple arithmatic.

Donn: thanks! (and no, I didn't throw money at the fish. The metals in many coins can be really dangerous to carp.)

I will be in London on Tuesday watching Pirate play cricket at Lord's. I expect to find lots of comments here when I return!

Dave said...

You may find it a little too far to cycle to Norfolk.

Geosomin said...

That sounds like a brilliant day.
I am jealous - I've never seen an aquadick...

Geosomin said...

Heh..freudian slip? I meant aquaduck.


There's not recovering from that one...

Adam said...

Very nice indeed. What a lovely day out. You were lucky with the weather though given the on and off rain in these parts!

BEAST said...

Looks wonderful CB , great pictures . I hope the blister has gone down :-)

Frobisher said...

Thank you so much for this post, it bought memories flooding back, a beautiful part of the country and I miss it.

ziggi said...

hi yooooo!
I just catching up - have been away since last we spoke - so glad you got back safely, was luverly to meet you

Mr Farty said...

I'll have to come down and visit. We don't have that many canal locks anymore since they built the
but that Victorian engineering is seriously impressive.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Dave: I could do it, just not in one day. I wonder if there's a sensible route (ie, that doesn't go anywhere near London).

Geo: hehehehe

Adam: yeah, i didn't get rained on until about 9/9:30 at night, and by then i was so hot, sweaty, and filty it was rather enjoyable to get sprinkled on. It kept the dust down on the path, if nothing else.

Beast: the blister is completely gone, thank you.

Frobi: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Ziggi: the delight is mutual, dahling! *muah!*

Farty: dude, that is so cool! i had no idea such a think existed! I'll have to go see it sometime.