Had a long hard ride today, by my standards anyway. I haven’t ridden much this week so determined to make up for it by riding along the railway line to Derrington after my morning coffee in town. Finding the path was ok, but after looking forward to riding out that way I’m afraid it was a bit of a disappointment, in more ways than one.
Granted, it is flat. My fiancé had confirmed as much, as she’s walked it in the past. Walked. On a bicycle it’s rather a different experience, a very rough trail that isn’t really suited to a bicycle with narrow tyres. I’d wondered in advance if on reaching Derrington I might carry on to Haughton, but there’s only so long I can put up with the sound of my bike rattling. It was crazy, I didn’t even have to use my bell – people could hear me approaching from the rattle! It was just two miles of solid fududududududududududududududud, and the palms of my hands were really starting to cry enough. Along the way there was about a quarter of a mile of solid puddles (still bumpy), which I had to ride straight through to avoid the mud either side. I was so busy controlling the bike I had no time to enjoy the view, which I’m sure was lovely on a nice sunny day.
At Derrington I needed to make a pitstop for a pee, and stopped at a bridge next to my Grandad’s old local, the Red Lion. On the ramp up from the trail I walked past a couple of ponies in a field.
No problem, I’ll just pop in the Red Lion and have some lemonade or something. Nope, it had closed, obviously some time ago, and is now a residential property. Shame. I decided to have a little ride around Derrington, which I haven’t seen much of since my Grandad died 17 years ago. After that trail it was a HUGE relief to be on billiard-table-smooth Tarmac again. Aside from the pub being closed not much had changed, and I rode past his old house. There were three cars in the drive, one a restoration-in-progress Morris Minor Traveller, and a Triumph motorbike, and it still had the same sign on the wall. I rejoined the trail back to Stafford, and found a convenient tree before starting back. One first was being on the same path as horses, two women riding a couple of very considerable looking animals.
I got back to Stafford and after a little bother crossing a road managed to pick up the Isabel trail out to Beaconside. Again the Tarmac was thoroughly appreciated by me, though there was rather a lot of dogs and kids to be negotiated. I saw about five small children on balance bikes today, they didn’t have those in my day – I had to learn balance and pedalling in one go. Coming back along Beaconside I was amazed how much energy I had left, although I suppose the bumpiness of the trail to Derrington had meant I wasn’t really exerting myself much.
As I approached the Weston Road I had a decision to make – straight home, or do the extra loop round through Baswich. Straight home was attractive, but Baswich would make it my longest ride yet, so I went to Baswich. As I was riding down the canal path I heard a noise which instinctively brought to mind the thought “that’s the sound a flat tyre makes”, and looked down to find my fears confirmed. Front tyre down, though not entirely flat. I walked my bike over to the bridge and pumped the tyre up, then walked over the bridge and checked if it was holding pressure – no luck.
I’m done with punctures now. I understand they’ll happen every once in a while, and quite expect to change a few tyres over the course of a year, but three in a month? COME ON!!! I looked over the tyre for any obvious signs, and found a tall pyramid-shaped shard of bright green glass was the culprit. I got the wheel off and made a start, and another cyclist stopped to check I had everything I needed (I did) and we had a little chat as he was waiting for pedestrians to clear the bridge. It was nice to have a little moral support, and after the usual faff with tight beads I replaced the tube, got the wheel on and went home.
As I reached home a little kid wandered up the drive after me, his mother beckoning him back. He was utterly transfixed by my bicycle, with a look of absolute wonder on his face. I would have liked to wander over and give him a closer look, but I was done for the day and not in a terribly good mood. I wonder if he’ll be getting a balance bike for his birthday? Let’s hope so.
One thing I do know – the next pair of tyres I buy are going to be so damn puncture-proof they’ll stop a fucking artillery shell.