I had a spare, completely free day and I had no plans for a ride. I’ve just finished building up a new bike, possibly the most sensible bike I’ve ever bought (well, once it comes out of singlespeed mode and into a geared bike).
I could of rode out into Wales and gone for a long, slow ride in the hills or jumped on the train to ‘hit’ the local forests, but I kept it simple and stayed close to the front door. I would split the ride into 6 special stages, with road sections between each of them.
My bike was loaded up, one water on the frame and a spare one in the rear of the seat with my tool pack. I was rapha-ed up and riding without a bag, ideal on a day like today with temperatures reaching highs of 30.
I flew through the first special stage, maybe it was the new bike syndrome that made me pedal harder, with a bigger grin without feeling my legs burn. I pushed it into the first few bends and kicked up dust. The semi-slick tyres held well in the bends and felt good on the straights.
After a short road descent, I entered onto Butter Hill climb special stage and started to spin the 32×16. I gained all my speed on the lower slopes and then danced on the pedals on the shorter, steeper gradient, topping out in the middle of Chester Zoo.
I eased off on the road section towards special stage 3, slowed down on the hairpin bend before coming to a halt to open the gate. Once through, I set off along the Picton bridleway stage, rolling into the first bumps and slowly finding my rhythm. I pumped then next few bumps and then found the short-comings of riding rigid. I slowed the pace down and bounced my way down the smallest of small declines that had been chewed up by horses, then dried over. I was spat out by a small village and was able my arms give my arms a shake down.
A small, steep climb through a farm lead me to special stage 4, a section that I had to push last year. I rode into the ever tightening path and rolled over the first few bumps, I hesitated on a small, chewed up section but the Salsa’s momentum cleared it for me. More down to luck, than any rider skill, I’d completed the most technical part of the special stage, so I pushed on. I had picked up speed well on the second part of this stage, so I was onto the longest part of the link up road sections.
I cycled the next 3KM at a more leisurely pace with my route taking me past a small, country pub. With all my will-power, I continued cycling, dipped below the motorway and onto the penultimate stage.
Special stage 5 was easy, not technical at all and more of a gravel road feel to it. By the stage, I had yet to see anyone else out and this stage was not going to spoil it. I dodged a few dried up puddles and made my way to the end of the stage. Last time I rode here, a tree had fallen and completely blocked my path but that was a year ago and someone had the foresight to chop it down. The stage was complete without drama and so, I tackled by last special stage after a brief road section.
It was over before it really started, the stage was only 300m long. I pumped over the first few bumps and dodged more dried up puddles but the last puddle caught me out. I came around the final corner and could not chose a line quick enough, so I pulled up and carried it over, Such a wimpy thing to do!
Oh well, it was great fun going out riding on the doorstep and not spending time travelling on such a hot day. I urge you to go out and buy a map of your local area and check out those bridleways. There is more riding out there than you know about.
(With keeping to a radius of about no more than 5KM from my front door, I managed a ride of 20KM taking in 6 off road sections)