I’ve been out cycling a couple of times this week. I tend to go in fits and starts, especially in the winter. Sometimes every weekend for a month and then nothing for a couple of months.
On Sunday us and the neighbours went for a family ride around Culham and the back of JET It’s a nice 3.5 mile, mainly hard standing, with a little bit round the edge of a field at the start and end. If you go anti-clockwise there is a short, fairly sharp incline that smaller kids may need a hand with, and quite a long downhill section after that. The rest, though is flat and ideal for younger cyclists that can ride but need to build up their confidence.
As it’s a couple of miles from our houses, the wives and kids travelled by cars to Culham and us two ‘men’ pedalled our way there.
On the way back though, we thought, instead of going straight down the A415 into Abingdon and out the other side and home, we detoured down Tolgate Road and across the bridges over the river, to see what the state of the river was. The Thames had burst it’s banks recently and, well it looked like the Mississippi, it was that wide.
After ogling the swollen Thames (ooh er, missus) we carried on into Sutton Courtenay and out toward Drayton.
There’s a shortcut to our side of Abingdon from Sutton called Peep O’ Day Lane. It’s a paved byeway (or whatever), part of a cycle route to Oxford from somewhere. We turned in to it and came to a stop.
Do we? Don’t we? How deep will it get? We reckoned it would get about a foot deep, which wouldn’t be a problem. The bit I was worried about was dropping off the side, as either side of the path is a drop of about 2 foot, more in some places, along with obligatory decrepit barbed wire fencing.
We went for it. We hit the water and within a couple of turns of the pedals, the water was 2 foot deep, sloshing over the forks, a steady ‘slap-slap’ noise as our pedals plunged in and out of the, frankly, bloody cold water. 300 metres later, we come out the other side, quite pleased with ourselves.
This may not sound like much of an achievement, but I didn’t realise how much resistance 2′ of water would have and it is quite unnerving not to be able to see where the road is. There may have been trees and a few bushes either side, but they are the other side of the path but they are not right at the side, as I said there is a drop immediately either side of the path, and they greenery is closer to the path is some places than others, of dropping into 4 or 5 foot of water was a very real possibility.
Quote of the day: “We’re on mountain bikes. Mountain bikes don’t go round stuff.”
The second time has been New Years Day. My brother-in-law and I went to Cheively, near Newbury and pedalled our way round 17 miles of mud.
Sometimes slippery, sometimes sticky, pretty much always deep.
Careering down the side of a bloody great hill and break neck speeds or carefully picking your way down a rocky outcrop is good fun, and challenging. So too is plugging away through three, four, five inches of mud. Travelling at crawling speed because because your back wheel spins every time you push down on the pedals, both wheels sliding sideways unexpectedly, whilst trying to keep your balance.
It’s a good job I enjoy the mud plugging cross-country as well as the big hill stuff. In this part of the country there aren’t that many big hills.
Quote of the day: “There’s nothing like a mudbath to get rid of a new years day hangover, except bacon of course.”
When you buzz a cyclist, you risk ripping the heart out of a family. Denying a little girl her daddy, or stealing a son or daughter from a loving parent. Is it worth it?
Is sharing the road really that much of an inconvenience?
It’s because of this animosity that cyclists are so uppity. Cyclists don’t want to be at war with motorists. We just want to ride without the BS and grief that’s handed out to us daily.
There are of course douchebag cyclists. But there are also many many douchebag motorists that treat every interaction on the road as some sort of contest. For every cyclist you saw jump a light, think about all the drivers who cut you up at a junction, or rear up behind you on the outside lane when you’re overtaking a lorry at 70mph — aggressively looking to push you out of the way, or pressuring you to match their law-breaking speed. People are dicks… it’s not a matter of dick-cyclists or dick-drivers.
Exactly. Although I’m probably the dick gesticulating behind my steering wheel in your mirror to get out the fucking way, I am also a cyclist. I don’t ride much on the road at the moment but it does fuck me off that the standard response by car drivers to cyclists is…
As you can tell, this example is generally a bit of a wanker, but that is pretty much the standard response. Cyclist goes to fast: kick the fucker off. Car driver goes too quick: a tut-tut at the most. How many times do you hear *anyone*, never mind cyclists, threaten to smack the fuck out of the next driver they see speeding? Not the next driver that cuts them up, just the next driver they see going a little too fast?
What exact privileges do you think being a driver gives you?
You sat a couple of short tests that “prove” that you have some basic control of a vehicle and a passing familiarity with the highway code. Then you’re allowed to operate a tonne of steal at speeds where if you hit another human being, he or she is near vaporised. Bicycle on pedestrian fatalities are rare. Bicycle on driver fatalities are near impossible.
So after sitting a ridiculously easy driving test, do you really expect a cyclist to sit a similar test? Tell you what… I will happily support compulsory cycling proficiency testing, if drivers are subject to the sort of testing that weeds out bad drivers, and ensures only the most “proficient” drivers are allowed to use the roads.
Let’s be generous and say that the driving exams are only once every 3-years. I mean, you’re operating a potential killing machine… we need to be super careful, no? We all want safe and efficient roads, yes?
Can I go one step further, and drivers have to spend a year or two on two wheels, both types, pedal and engine, before being allowed into something with four wheels. That might give car drivers a view on exactly how scary it is when a car driver traps your front wheel between their back wheel and the kerb.
Maybe then, the road might be shared a little more fairly.
Well. It’s been a while, eh? In fact it’s been so long I thought I’d have to reset my password to login, but fortunately my browser remembered it.
Anyway, how you been? Me? Busy. Somehow. Blogging here, and my other place which is usually the busier of the two sites, has taken a bit of a back seat over the last couple of months for some reasons I won’t go into here and other reasons I could but would bore you silly, if you’re not already.
I think the main reason I haven’t posted here for a while is because whenever I go out with a camera my daughter seems to be with me and she has commandeered my Canon DSLR which has left me to get on with things with my Nikon film camera. I don’t mind, my lass is developing a hobby and I’m getting practice with a slightly different camera. I could scan the results and post them, but frankly, I need a lot more practice with it. It took a while to stop chimping at the screen that isn’t there and other photographers go on about the suspense and excitement that comes with being made to wait before they see their photos after a trip to the processors. I don’t. I hate it.
It’s not so much having the screen on the back of a DSLR, it’s more being able to get home and look at what I’ve shot that day or evening and edit them, if needed. I don’t normally take 30-odd photos when I go out, with an SLR, even if I did fill up a roll in one outing, it can be days before I get the photos back. I don’t have room for a darkroom in my house either.
My lass on the other hand seems to have taken to photography like a natural. I think i’m gonna have to get her her own camera so I can have mine back.
Anyway, as this is primarily a photoblog, and the front page has a horrible X on it if I don’t put a picture in the post here’s a photo, taken by my brother-in-law, of me doing the Marin Trail…