Errandonnee #11

The forecast had changed. Enough for another short one without getting wet from the sky.

Errand 11: non store errand

Distance: 16.2km/10miles

Destination: the jet wash in town (look away Jim)

Rationale & observations:

After yesterdays muddy adventure and a failure to clean the 29er for a week or so, I decided that it was time for a jet wash treat. I know, I know, there is a risk that grit will get into the components etc but I don’t do it often enough to cause lasting damage. There is a hell of a lot of mud around right now to travelled along the Flitch, up through some farm land and along the river to the petrol station and purchased a £2/6min wash. It was a ride of Passendaele-esque proportions. Parts along the river felt like I was slipping and sliding through teflon covered treacle.

My decision to wear shorts was regrettable as my shins bore the brunt of the muddy splash through numerous puddles at 2°C.

Mud tan-the look of things to come if the weather forecast is correct

Wash over, a quick application of GT-85 to the important bits + wet lube to the chain, I had a nice clean bike.

I rode along the road on the way back and housed Boris in the shed along with the others for a change.

Back in the stable for the evening

So I am 1 short of the 12 errandonnee target but the total 75miles for the project will do. Thanks for organising Chasing Mailboxes-I have my mojo back. I have also pledged to do the 30 days of cycling challenge in April. It’s great riding every day…

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Errandonnee exploring

I had another trip to the refuse centre planned today but first had to transplant the bike for the wood, chipboard and plaster board left over from the installation of the new wardrobe and the cupboard under the stairs. It was dry and the forecast is for rain for the next 4 days. I would rather set out in the dry and get rained on mid ride than start in the wet so I headed out and decided to go where the wheels took me.

Errand 10: peaceful everyday actions

Destination: Anywhere and everywhere

Distance: 20km/12miles

Rationale & observations: I wandered rather aimlessly up to Hatfield Forrest before deciding to go cross country to the Flitch and then east. I got off the Flitch and decided to ride around High Wood quarry. This is on the site of WWII USAAF Station 164. I think that the the media here in the UK are a little guilty of framing our thinking towards those who fell to the mud and hardships of the western front in WWI on days of remembrance. Those who served elsewhere from elsewhere in other conflicts are sometimes forgotten. I posted my thing on the airfield and those who served here & am glad to see that the local community have still not forgotten.

I played but stuck to the gravel roads

I find exploring on my bike to be the thing that takes me away from the trials of my life most consistently. I have promised to do more of that when it finally stops raining. My attention is on the area that I am in many different ways, the terrain, the wildlife, imagining the history as I search the horizon for potential route options- where will this take me? Is that bridle-way the one I looked for last summer? Wait, is that a fox? This is so peaceful! That looks a nice place to stop when I come here next time…

Once I got to the quarry, I intended ride around to the concrete roads, a reminder of what was once here. I imagined another time on an equally bleak day. Bombers returning from a mission or lining up waiting to go, petrol bowsers, vehicles swarming the airfield. If I had a time machine and was limited to one era to visit for a week, it would be Britain in WWII.

I was nearly at the end of my 2nd road and spotted a bridal-way sign. It looked muddy and didn’t know for sure where it headed but what the hell, its Good Friday; the rubbish can wait, the airfield isn’t going anywhere so I’ll see what happens.

The concrete roads are the only visible sign of what was here. It was an RAF base but when the Americans arrived they concreted runways and service roads to accommodate the B-26 medium range bombers

It was muddy, treacherous and fun and it led me to Bambers Green, 3km from home. It was now raining quite steadily, not heavy but once back on the road I abruptly snapped out of my reverie and headed home to chores.

For that brief 20min of my day, my ride gave me peace, enjoyment. Sometimes exploring is the best way to go.

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75% Errandonnee

Errand 9: Other

Destination: The ATM

Distance: 2km/1.2miles

Rationale & observations: I drove to work today with the intention of getting there early and walking to the ATM (does everyone still call it that?). I have a dinner to go to after work and the dress code is more smart casual rather than sweaty 50 something in water proofs and helmet so my Thursday commute was shelved.

I got distracted in the supermarket, had a salmon & scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel in the cafe and then noticed the time so sped off. I had a colleague’s baby shower to get to. This was my 1st ever baby shower. We played a trivia quiz about my colleague that I came last at and then I scraped to 2nd last with 5/10 in the nursery rhyme quiz (I still don’t know who the hell Jack Horner was). I ate cake and a scone with clotted cream and jam. Then I had lunch, a chicken and avocado sandwich, crisps and fruit followed by a home made Emmental, pastrami, rocket and aioli flat bread during teaching. After teaching, I ate some biscuits and got the bike out of the van which is the most convenient place to keep it, not only to conserve shed space (there are already 4 bikes in there) but for little windows of opportunity like today.

The Ford Freda, the same model as the Mazda Bongo. It is our camper but Mrs B2W refers to it as the 2nd shed

I am just back from my return trip to the ATM with money to pay for dinner and beer later. I was in proper urban commute gear, water proofs, no spd shoes, no melon protection device. It was a short journey in only light rain. Only 3 rides left with a total of 48km/29miles…

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Today was the last “workers Mass” of Lent. I have been stopping off every Wednesday at 06.30 on the way to work to observe one of the 3 pillars of the season. The other 2, alms giving and fasting have been less successful although my morning commutes are usually “fasted rides”…

Errand 8: personal care

Destination: St Joseph’s and the English Martyrs, Bishops Stortford

Distance: 7.54km/4.7miles

Rationale & observations:

It was due to rain today but in my area it wasn’t forecast to start until after Mass. So I geared up with the waterproofs and headed in to town with my protesting legs. It was dark. My CatEye Volt 1200 lumen light of 2 years won’t re-charge or start. I used my Lezyne blinkie on the constant setting but it won’t be bright enough for my late ride home so I will leave early enough not to need it. My blinkie is 2 years older than the CatEye and still charges well so I think that I’ll get a Lezyne of similar lumen power. Using both at night gives me comfort and the stronger the better for off roading at night. Anyone got any recommendations? I’d really value them in the comments below.

The warm glow from inside on a cool morning inviting me in to try to be a better person

I thanked the Lord for keeping me safe for another week on the bike and asked a couple of patron saints for help with some things. I am amused by people who say,”all of my prayers were answered…” when in fact, they are always answered. It’s just that sometimes we don’t always get the answer that we want or are looking for.

I have found Father Peter’s brief sermons particularly insightful for my own life over Lent. His suggestion to be mindful of the reading of Isaiah 50:4-9, “…he has given me a disciples tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary…” struck a chord. I felt inspired to curb my sarcastic tongue. To stop swearing. To speak kindly to others if you like.

Until I got sprayed by a van and then fell unceremoniously ankle deep in a rural puddle 10 minutes later that is…It was a massive fail on all 3. I take comfort that as a good Catholic I feel guilty over that.

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An old favourite

I’m currently liking the upright position on my 29er. With the pot holes around these parts and the amount of water that is falling from the sky at the moment its solidness gives me a sense of security. It suits me mighty fine.

Errand 7: work commute

Destination: Home

Distance: 32.9km/20.4 miles

Rationale & observations: Yesterday, with a bit of time on my hands for the ride home from work, I took a spur of the moment route that I avoid in the winter. It is longer than the usual but on a sunny warm day with a number of good rest stops (read country pubs) is an ideal way to wind down from the work day. In contrast the mornings ride in through 100% of the “90% risk of heavy rain”, I set off in the dry and mild 11°C/52°F & kept my water proofs in the back pack.

I escaped the close pass chaos of town by taking the bumpy, crappily maintained cycle tracks. The country lanes were inevitably pot holed and covered in mud or debris from farm vehicles. I whizzed past the John Barleycorn, at 10km too soon for a stop. It wasn’t warm enough anyway but it was too warm for 3 layers so I unzipped my jacket and sailed towards the Black Horse at White Roding taking a stop on the way to admire the view from where I travelled.

Are those rain clouds?

Hmmmm. Too early in the year to sit outside with a pint watching the world go by? Closed, move on. 2km from home and those rain clouds opened up.

I was soaked. I felt rule #9. I felt fulfilled.

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Muddy trails

My plan for todays ride was scuppered by Master 13 being unwell and unable to go to school. So I couldn’t do my usual Park & Ride from the supermarket to home in the morning and then back again in the afternoon. I was also tired having been woken at 3.30 & wandered in and out of consciousness listening to the commentary of the England v NZ test from Auckland.

Errand 6: non store errand

Destination: Around Hatfield Forrest.

Distance: it was 7km/4miles but I forgot to start my Strava again after the gate at the forrest so it says that I only did 5km/3miles.

Rationale & observations: I spent the morning doing Dadmin on the computer before taking master 13 to the GP. We waited 45 minutes for a 10 minute consultation. Once we got back and had a late lunch, I didn’t have time for a big ride so I decided to check out some trails in nearby Hatfield Forrest. I used some of these trails extensively last summer as an alternative route to work from home but stopped in December due to the rain and mud.

After the recent dry weather I thought that a recce of the area was well overdue so I headed out to have a look. It was mostly dry and firm(ish) but other parts, crucial to my route were not.

Muddy hollows until the tree line

There were also a number of ride closures. They do this regularly at this time of year and rotate them to rest areas from over-use. It’s bloody annoying but necessary for people like me to enjoy such a wonderful resource.

Ride closures galore. This one has been closed for 7 months so I’m hopeful of the grand re-opening soon

An overall assessment of the trails is mostly firm but some areas of true bog still. Given the rain forecast for the rest of the week, I think that I’ll wait to use them for work commutes for another couple of weeks….

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A peaceful everyday action

I wasn’t sure what to call this one. It was actually a store errand.

Errand 4: Peaceful Everyday Action

Destination: A lot of my riding is a 7km loop to the local shop. This was one of them to get some margarine but I have used up the store errand quota.

Rationale and observations: The ride is quick, convenient to coax the boys out on a ride and doesn’t waste petrol or pollute the environment. I spent Saturday evening taking apart a large wardrobe and loading the van with the MDF and chip board components so that I could be at the recycling & refuse centre when it opened the following morning. This I planned, would avoid any queues as people would over-sleep due to the clocks going forward. I was right and was home for brunch before cleaning the space and painting the wall that was hidden by the wardrobe. It was sunny and mild. The birds were singing, people where walking and riding on the shared path behind the house, enjoying the spring weather while I was inside lamenting my lot.

After a most excellent late lunch roast pork, I added a second coat of paint while listening to the emergent details of a hostage situation in France and an Australian cricket scandal before tidying up and invited my family out for a ride. Mrs B2W was tired after a late night out, Master 13 was laid low with headaches, fever and sore throat (man ‘flu) while master 10 would rather practice his acrobatics on the trampoline. So I offered to ride up to the shop to get the much needed marg for the next days packed school lunches. After a weekend of chores and taxi driving I decided that I needed some space so I hopped on the 29er for a spin up the Flitch. I didn’t bother kitting up save the spd shoes and helmet. It was just a loose base layer under a rugby top and a pair of shorts.

The Flitch Way, dry & awesome

The trail was dry and the sun was still out blinking through the clouds. I am mostly a solo rider so usually do a lot of thinking when I am out on a ride but not this time. All of my personal woes and trials had evaporated. No Twitter feed, no latest crisis on the news, no in-law with cancer, no loved one in the grip of anxiety and depression. I felt like a kid again jumping the kerbs, taking short cuts and trying (but failing) to do wheelies. I was reminded of a simpler life when I was younger and the only way to go where I wanted was by bike; exploring different routes and often staying out all day.

Another 1st for 2018-shorts!

But times have changed. I was on a deadline to be back and when I got back my previous lethargy was gone and there was a smile on my face. I am reminded that the beauty of a bike ride is not limited to a method of transport but offers me a remedy from my own anxiety and stress. This may explain some of my lack of enjoyment doing it over the last month. I have treated riding as a function that must be done to maintain fitness, save money rather than be mindful to my surroundings when I am out doing it. The days are getting longer and it is getting warmer-a timely peaceful everyday action indeed…

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