Author Topic: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++  (Read 12785 times)

JohnR

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #75 on: July 07, 2021, 09:44:06 PM »
On the 5th day of my leisurely supported LEJOG I passed this sign after crossing the Severn bridge. My legs are feeling weary as it's difficult to prepare for the hills of the first three days on the mainly backroads of Cornwall and Devon where the effort of getting up the hills is rewarded by proceeding cautiously down the hills due to bends, villages or oncoming vehicles. The brakes have had plenty of use.

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #76 on: July 17, 2021, 11:54:01 AM »
Because the mask fogged up my spectacles and one cannot cycle blind, I hardly rode during the year and a half of the lockdown. But now that I'm vaccinated and the lockdown is being progressively relaxed, I'm slowly checking out favourite lanes again, learning where the new potholes are.

Though it's a bit embarrassing to admit among all these major tourers, a regular almost daily, almost year-round ride for me is one of the 8.5km loops or figures of eight around my house, which is about the same exercise as I would get on my treadmill or rowing machine; since I ride in my normal clothes, khakis or tracksuits, such short rides are not inconvenient at all. A regular social outing with my pedalpals and sometimes other friends is in the order of 22-30km there and back. On the hills of West Cork, further than that is enough to put non-cyclists who own a bike (a class I'm sure you're all familiar with) off cycling for life.

But when I say a lane, I mean something probably smaller than you imagine. Real Irish main roads are generally pretty narrow, unpleasant for social cyclists because of the heavy, fast traffic, and dangerous even for experienced cyclists. A big organised ride for charity from here only 22m to Cork along the wide highway had six ambulances tailing it -- I counted -- besides a police presence front and back to intimidate car drivers to give it space. Frankly, I sympathised with the car drivers and the grim-looking, exasperated policemen: those cyclists were a danger to themselves and everyone else, at one point riding six abreast.



From my house I ride north thirty yards, turn left, ride another thirty yards, turn right, and forty yards later I'm in what most people would consider the countryside, though it's actually just the edge of town. Turn right again and ride a few kilometres until I come to the country extension of the road i live on, which is the old main road to the city. Normally I would cross it and go for a country ride, returning by one of a choice of routes. On this day I turned back and rode home the same way. The photo above shows green all round but there's actually a house on my right, an estate of houses beside the small lane turning off, a big school hidden in the greenery, a cemetery, I can turn left on the lane and down a steep hill to come out on the road on which I live a couple of clicks from home but again I give the busy road a miss and stay on the lane, taking the long easy way home. (I could also cross the road on which I live and speed down a very steep hill directly into the centre of town but from there it is severely uphill to my house.)



For my next ride I go further out into the countryside. It's a disaster. In this sort of lane you can't ride on the middleman because you don't know what is under the grass, because the hump is rounded and the grass wet, and you will slip off it and fall into the hedgerow, which looks pretty but hides thorns and sharp sticks from the violent motorised trimmers used to keep the hedgerows from overgrowing the lanes. I photograph this farmer's entry to get the colour combination to consider with artist friends. Note that the upside lane is pretty clear. With my Sherlock Holmes hat on I conclude that the farmer reverses out of his gate, the rear end of his 4WD stopping just short of the fern hanging into the lane on the left (another danger -- those ferns are tough and well rooted, and if they get in your spokes...) and then goes to town the long way round, the way I've just come.

Here is where the farmer would be heading, where I've just come from, in a painting I made a few years ago:


Andre Jute, Kilbrogan Fields, 2014

This is the view 180 degrees from my photo of the farmer's gate, where I'm heading:



I ride on, rather than turn back, sorry now for all the county council chairmen I've choked a little by winding their chain of office around my hand when I ran into them at concerts and civic functions, to hold them still while I lectured them on the ugly evil of sending the hedge cutters into the wider lanes before the end of October or even November.

You can't see it because it's a bit dull in the overcast early dusk, but the grass on the middleman is wet, so I can't ride there. And the tracks at the sides are overgrown with thorny bushes and ferns with cutting edges. One of my favourite pink shirts won't make it home in one piece... My man in Jermyn street weeps and wonders why he ever took on such a callow person with zero culture, a shirt-wrecker. But I'm more worried about my bike's irreplace historic coach paint. It's a stressful ride to the same main road we've met several times, the extension of the road I live on. I'm not riding home on it because this time of the day the cars and delivery trucks are 10 yards apart at 100kph on a narrow, broken surface that in Germany and America would get the road engineers fired en masse. I just want to cross it to the lane on directly across.

After waiting for ten minutes for a break in the traffic, I take my life in my hands, hold up my hand to a car I know as it comes over the hill to my right, and dash across a good fifty yards in front of the car from the left, who had slowed down for the marked black spot about a hundred yards to my left. The guy in the car I know, which I know because I know him, is brassed off at the horns sounding behind him as he slows for me. He shouts at me, "You're a maniac, Andre." I raise a single finger over my shoulder.

The lane on the other side of this dangerous road has been resurfaced! Ironic, eh, but I'm not smiling. There's loose gravel and now I'm really worried about my steel bike's paintwork, so I ride slowly, saying individual goodbyes to remembered potholes, which will surely reappear in exactly the same places in a year or three. This lane connects with another, and I note with interest that to the left it has also been tarmacced (well actually cheaply chipped and sealed). This lane to the left is one we normally did not ride because while I on my 60mm Big Apples felt no pain, beyond the hill it was dirt with donga-sized (ask John Saxby for an explanation -- thanks, John) water-washed ruts into which smaller bikes could disappear. But if newly remade with blacktop, we could ride down it to a really good road with almost zero traffic which makes up part of a wider loop we like, and miss out on the 200 yards of misery on the dangerous road I'd just crossed.

I turn right and after a few miles cross the dangerous road again right on the edge of town but just before the speed delimitation sign and with decent visibility to both sides, and now I'm on the lane of the first photo and on my way home in peaceful green. The only moving vehicles until I see until I return to the busy road only thirty yards from my house is another cyclist on a distinctively purple bike that I gave away over 20 years ago, who calls out a cheery hello.

You don't need to go to Africa (dysentery and hostile tribesmen) for an adventure...
« Last Edit: July 17, 2021, 05:40:14 PM by Andre Jute »

in4

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #77 on: July 18, 2021, 10:32:31 AM »
Thanks for sharing Kilbrogan Fields, Andre. Enjoyed seeing it and ‘reading’ a distinctive style.

PH

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #78 on: July 18, 2021, 11:49:35 AM »
Thanks for sharing that Andre (I think) the photos look idyllic to me but the words paint a different picture.
The cost of Sartorial elegance is too high for me, I don't have a shirt that's afraid of thorns or a bike without a scratch.  I do cycle in whatever I'm wearing (Though some might say I only wear what I'd cycle in), there are exceptions to this, but I can't remember the last one.
I've been to Ireland several times, including a year working there in the mid 80's, though it predated any interest in cycling and I've never been there on a bike.  Even driving, the roads were atrocious and the standard of driving seemed to match, though it was a while ago.  It is on my list, though it might wait it I can stay for months rather than days. 
Here, grass up the middle of a road is a sign of peace and tranquillity, there's websites devoted to such riding
https://grassupthemiddle.com/

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #79 on: July 18, 2021, 02:26:27 PM »
Thanks for the website link, Paul; those folks have the right idea. I've bookmarked it. That bike leaning against the H2O tank seems to have awfully fat tyres...

It's well worth a shirt and some scratches per ride to get out into the fresh air after so long inside during the lockdown.

If I'd taken the ride the other way round, I would have saved the shirt, because uphill, especially if you have a motor, the wet grass of the middleman is much more rideable than coming downhill on it and braking to control you speed. If the braking causes a slip, even a tiny one, you're a goner. Whereas the motor (with a thumb throttle -- doesn't work with a German style pedelec) helps you keep up just the right tension of forward speed regardless of what's under the grass.

As an experienced long-range cyclist, I think you'll be okay on Irish roads. The standard of driving is vastly better -- but unfortunately also faster -- than it was in the 80s.

I remember my first encounters with Irish motorists of that period with a shudder.

***

I don't want you to think I live in fear or something. I just prefer cycling where people know me, and know that I'll pull off and let them pass as soon as I can. Of course, like other smart cyclists, I stay off the roads when the soccer mums in SUVs too big for their talents are fetching their kids from school -- no point in tempting fate.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 05:23:48 PM by Andre Jute »

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #80 on: July 20, 2021, 03:10:07 AM »
Andre, what a splendid illustrated & cautionary tale of cycling in your otherwise Green and Pleasant Land (and thank you, Mr Blake, sir, for allowing me to carry your timeless words 'crost the Irish Sea).

Your photos and watercolours of the lanes put me in mind of what I remember as a kid in Foggie Olde (Wessex sub-sector), "greenlanes" I think they were called.  Perhaps they still are?

I like the "middleman" tag for that ridge of grass.  A couple of friends in our extended neighbourhood have long driveways on their farmsteads. We drive them with one set of wheels in the middle, one on the side.  But I have to say I can't recall Actual Roads in Ontario with that feature.

Another analogy does pop up, tho' (maybe triggered by your "donga" reference?):  I'm  guessing you'll have driven on strip roads in Rhodesia, back in the day?  Two strips of tarmac, about 24" wide, 36-42" between them?  Delicate control required when two cars approached, each putting a set of wheels off to the left.  Dodgy bizness in the rains...

Pink shirt, eh?  Good on yer.  Our son loved pink shirts and even bicycles when he was a little boy. To protect him from being hassled, we told him we had trouble finding what he wanted in that colour (partly true). By the time he was a teenager and beyond, eventually competing in the 2007 Kung-Fu world champoinships in Beijing, he wore pink shirts without getting hassled for his choice of colours.

Cheers,  J.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 03:12:09 AM by John Saxby »

Andre Jute

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« Reply #81 on: July 20, 2021, 12:06:08 PM »
If only the local strips were two feet wide...

I remember those strip roads in Rhodesia, John. And the rainy season. And a huge storm drain that we used to hold races in, must have been on the way to Bulawayo because I remember coining one of my most successful jokes: "Xxxxx, a town so dull, at six o'clock every evening they roll up the pavements," in a wicked Chinese gambling den, which was why we went to such an unlikely place, probably at least 1500 miles from Stellenbosch.

Forty plus years later, sitting in the back of a car with bikes strapped to the back on our way to ride across the mountain on the Durrus Peninsula down the road here, my arms around the two sweeties into whose baskets I had already dropped my water, food and spare shirt (my secret is old age and treachery), the only stranger, an English engineer consulting for a couple of weeks in Ireland, said of some town on the way where we couldn't find anything open to give us breakfast*, "Xxxxx, a town so dull, at six o'clock every evening they roll up the pavements."

* For those of you who aspire to tour in Ireland, if you want a fruit scone, a "local" specialty all over the island, you don't ask for a "skonn" but for a rock, as in "Scone" of Scotland. I mention the fruit scone in particular because it is a superb mix of dried fruit and starch, just what a long-distance athlete needs, especially if heavily buttered. It's basically a superior, more natural version of the Jacob's Fig Rolls which the coach of the British national mud pluggers said was his cyclists' instant, but long-lasting as well, energy food.

Some personal notes about touring in Ireland at http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14293.0

***
I don't hear "greenlanes" here, John, not even as "green lanes". Green isn't an adjective of much value in Ireland, because everything is so green, it is axiomatic, even implied only by exception: "Sad to see the fields so yellow." The only reason that "Green and Beloved" isn't a meaningless cliche for me is that I grew up in a red desert (well, okay, I've written books about colour both as technical interests in reprographics and in psychology, but that isn't the sort of approach we're talking about). The phrase rather than expressing a common Irish emotion -- even though the land as property is very keenly desired by the Irish for historical reasons -- is merely an example of a poet seeing and expressing something no one else has thought to say. But it is much more complex than the obvious interpretation. My granny, who came here with General Smuts -- he was the Henry Kissinger of his day, a statesman so valuable that he was the only man to serve in the British war cabinets in both world wars, sent by Lloyd George to see if he could talk some sense into the Irish --, always referred to "The Green and the Stubborn".

Off to ride in the heat wave beside the river which might have a cooling breeze. I wish everyone else a cool ride as well.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 02:25:16 PM by Andre Jute »

tyreon

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #82 on: August 02, 2021, 09:09:58 AM »
THOSE ARE LANES!!!

Dont have any-many where I now live.

There were some down in Kent way. Lottsa chicanes,blind corners,high hedges and grass-in-the-middle type jobs.

Unfortunately most of Kent is now being built over with add-on villages,roads,motorways or railways. Maybe it wants to become Detroit.

Good precis.

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #83 on: August 02, 2021, 09:47:10 AM »
Thanks, Tyreon. I used to live at Burwell, near Newmarket, not because I'm a racegoer but because it was convenient to Cambridge, specifically because I liked walking and cycling in the East Anglian lanes, and our house on the canal (a good separation from the aggressive flock of geese on the other side!) gave direct access to many varied rides -- with zero hills! But I don't imagine too many of them are there any more.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2021, 05:36:10 PM by Andre Jute »

PH

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #84 on: August 03, 2021, 10:07:35 AM »
Unfortunately most of Kent is now being built over with add-on villages,roads,motorways or railways. Maybe it wants to become Detroit.
I spent a chunk of my childhood and teenage years living in Maidstone, on the rare occasion I go back I don't recognise it!

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #85 on: August 12, 2021, 11:37:41 AM »
I rode out a couple of days ago but didn't stop to take any photos in my hurry to complete the circuit before the forecast rain fell. When I say I hurried, I mean within my permitted heart rate limits, but I was still happy to hear my heart rate app reporting at one kilometre intervals that regardless of hills (all this circuit I was on is either up or down, no level road) I was covering every klick in the ten-second range 4m20s to 4:30 without exceeding my newly self-imposed limit of 50kph on the downhills.

Yesterday I was otherwise engaged.

Today it looks beautiful out there from behind glass but the eucalyptus nearest my study window is whipping itself up in a rage. Accuweather for once reports what I can see:

Wind SSW 35 km/h
Wind Gusts 54 km/h

For old salts among you, that's the misleading Beaufort* 5 or "fresh breeze", gusting to Beaufort 7 or "near gale". Also, rain, which commenced falling since I started this note.

I'm not planning on riding in gusts of 54kph because virtually every ride from here is at least partly along an unprotected ridge. But it's fair to ask if a fellow who takes 4m20s to cover a kilometre, which is a fraction less than 14kph over the ground, will be blown backwards at c20kp in a steady fresh breeze of 35kph.

*IIRC, Beaufort was an Anglo-Irish officer in the Royal Navy, by definition charming and clever because he rose to admiral. His scale didn't measure speed because the instrument didn't exist but judged the symptoms of speed such as (on land) whether the tips of branches, whole large branches, or whole trees are affected by the force of the wind. The speed ranges were added in the 20th century.


John Saxby

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« Reply #86 on: August 12, 2021, 02:39:03 PM »
Wise choice, André.  I envy you your wind & likely rain, tho': yesterday morning, I did a four-hour ride up into the hills across the river, and by the time I returned at midday, the temp was near 30, and the humidex closing on 40. I was knackered  :(

Your mention of the Beaufort-wallah sent me into Wikipedia to check about the naming of the Beaufort Sea.  Same bloke, tho' the Wikipage doesn't say who bestowed his name upon the defenceless and blameless Arctic sea. Likely some variant of the self-proclaimed honourable society of the great & the good.

Our maps are littered with things like this.  Last year I mentioned an overnight camping stay at a nearby provincial park, Fitzroy--not the cap'n of the Beagle, but his half-brother.  (The cap'n appears in Beaufort's Wikipage, BTW, just to reassure you that the great & the good were careful about ensuring their mutual & ongoing employment.)

All this by way of a heads-up:  My provisional routing for my weeklong mini-tour in W Qué will take me through Ladysmith, QC.  Yes, that Lady Smith: Sir 'arry's missus.  To your great Relief, no doubt,  ;) I'll just be passing through, with no more than an exasperated nod to colonial hangovers.

Cheers,  J.

Andre Jute

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« Reply #87 on: August 12, 2021, 06:16:36 PM »
"Yes, that Lady Smith: Sir 'arry's missus. To your great Relief, no doubt"

You're wicked, John. Heh-heh. For those a bit weak on the History of Empire, and who can blame them, an explanatory link for John's capitalisation, chosen at random, so don't hold me responsible for its accuracy or bias: https://www.keepmilitarymuseum.org/history/the+boer+war/the+devonshire+regiment/the+first+battalion/the+relief+of+ladysmith

What misfortune did Smith bring to North America?
***
A great-uncle, much bemedalled by the time he became a general, told me when I got my first bicycle of a whole regiment of Italian soldiers in North Africa who were bicycle-mounted. He was in the LRDG, the Long Range Desert Group of reckless reconnaissance heroes, and they'd skulk behind a dune hundreds of miles behind Rommel's lines: "You could hear them coming a long way in the still of the night. Shoo-shoo shoo-shoo shoo-shoo their spokes went, sussurating all in unison. Now, boy, there's half a crown on it if you can spell sussurating."



John Saxby

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« Reply #88 on: August 12, 2021, 09:35:51 PM »
Thanks, Andre.  Took me a while to work out a pun-by-capitalisation, but I reckoned you'd pick up on it  ;)

LRDG indeed.  Serious name to drop. Likewise, "sussurating" indeed -- how often does that verb pop up in conversations??  Or for that matter, Italian soldiers cycling in the desert?? Can you imagine how they would've cursed their CO? (One of the facts of growing up in a military family is that there's a seemingly inexhaustible supply of bizarre and inexplicable decisions/commands, but I have to say I'd never heard of that one...Poor blokes.)

Mr & Ms Smith left a couple of map references, one in QC and one in BC.  Both are small dots on de map, neither as significant (for all I know) as the Soufafrican one.  (Nor is there a Spion Kop overlooking a road to Ladysmith. One is enough.)

Until I went to live & work in Central & Southern Africa--for which I'm eternally grateful, though no-one should blame the kind people of the region for whatever I do or say--the only "Harry Smith" I knew about was a guy who played defence for the Trail Smoke-Eaters, World Hockey Champions of 1961. He had a fierce shot from the point. He was never knighted--steelworkers don't usually get such things.  Ladysmith, BC, is on Vancouver Island, about 725 kms due west of Trail by bike and ferry.

Cheers,  J.

John Saxby

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« Reply #89 on: August 19, 2021, 09:47:46 PM »
Earlier in the week, the weather broke, and last week's hot'n'muggy blanket dissipated, dispersed by dry northwesterly winds.

This week, I made a similar ride up into the hills, taking my Raven to check a couple of tweaks before my mini-tour a few days hence.  The ride was a bit demanding, as always: the hills on the northern side of the ridge are a kilometre or so longer and a % or so steeper than on the southern/western side.

No matter:  it was a glorious late-summer day, temps in the mid-20s with a light breeze, and a beguiling mix of sunshine and shadow on trees, road, rocks and cyclists. (A couple of sample fotos follow below, taken on a "step" in the approach.)  No motor traffic, glory  be--that's banned in the Gatineau Park on Mon-Tues-Thurs-Fri, and mornings of Wed-Sat-Sun.

Osi the Raven was smooth and comfortable, ready for next week's five-day excursion in the extended neighbourhood.