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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Errandonnee 2 & 3

Both of today’s rides were opportunistic and in the Store category but for different reasons

Errand 2: Store

Destination: Anywhere with water

Distance: 11.3km/7miles

Rationale: It has been a while since I’ve taken master 10 to one of his football matches (that’s soccer to everyone outside of Europe). They are usually quite entertaining affairs but mainly for the opposition spectators whose children gorge themselves on the goal scoring opportunities offered to them on a regular basis. Master 10 has problems getting ready and out of the house on time to be at the ground on time. This time he couldn’t find his shorts so in the end had to borrow his older brothers pair which thankfully fitted nicely. In fact, I think the laundry staff* may have accidentally put them in the wrong pile in the frenzy of house chores. We got there on time but on the way discovered that we/I had forgotten his water bottle. Being the elite athlete that he is (he wears #10 & thinks that he’s Messi), I thought it unreasonable to punish this fundamental error by making him go without. So, with the 29er in the back of the van, dropped him off and took advantage of the balmy 7°C temperature to spin my way to Stansted Mountfitchet 3km away to a store to get him a bottle of the rehydration fluid of choice our house-water.

The ride back was a somewhat truncated affair as anything < 10km is a bit, well hardly worth it. So I used my local knowledge and decided to check out a local shared path that avoids the bicycle close pass lottery, junction 8 of the M11 motorway. This included discovering a bridalway that I had seen on the OS map but never been able to find from the opposite direction. There has been work to improve this path to firm it up and I must say that while I enjoy a rutted path like the next off roader, it was a dream to tear down. It beats the pot holed chaos that currently blights the local road network after a prolonged period of road gritting….

I puffed my way up the bridge that goes over the M11 to find that the work continues to paving (yes, PAVING!!!) the section heading towards the airport and the field where the match took place.

Shared in name, cycle by nature. The middle post, while preventing local 4 wheel hooligans, still too wide for my 29er handle bars

I got back in time to watch an entertaining match. From the warm comfort of the van while sending live text commentary back to HQ…

Could get a gig at the World Cup

HQ were less than impressed with the live commentary interruptions. They were in the kitchen preparing sweet potato and tofu curry for tonight’s dinner (look away now Jim).

* that’s probably me

Errand 3: Store

Destination: Town



On the way home, master 10 gets a text from a friend. A group of them are meeting in town and want to know if he can join them. So we get back home, have lunch and, being a most excellent Dad, drive him in to town. HQ also needed some desiccated coconut to finish off the curry. Town is safe for a bunch of 10/11 year olds but I thought that I should be local to be on call in case of emergency.

Anyone who reads this blog will appreciate that I’ll be damned if I am going to waste my hard earned on driving back home only to go back 3 hours later to collect him. So I drove up to my local park and ride, purchased the coconut and rode my bike back home to deliver it before completing the loop back to town to collect him. The money that I saved on petrol paid for the coconut twice over (I live in the UK-the price of petrol is extortionate…).

My local P&R. Unofficial free parking for Errandonneurs

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Errandonnee already

I got all fired up for this when I read about it. The weather & personal circumstances have severely curtailed the opportunity to get out & ride to the extent that I’ve only done 11 bike commutes this year. By this time last year, it was nearly 30. And then I forgot about it. Dunno why as I thought that this Errandonnee thing could kick start things.

1: work commute

Date: 21st March

Destination: Back home in the evening. It was a total of 13.4 miles punctuated by a couple of meetings on the way.

1st leg

2 leg

Observations: We got a free lunch at work to “celebrate” being taken out off “special measures“. Chilli con Carne, rice, tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa filled my groaning tummy at 12 after the morning ride in via the Lent workers Mass.

Is it just me who takes way more than he should when there is anything free on offer?

It was probably too much in this season of prayer, alms giving & fasting but boy did it hit the spot.

This ride home was a 1st for 2018. It wasn’t too cold to stop and take a photo!

Sunset over the river. The view was better on the higher ground a minute beforehand but I couldn’t be bothered to go back

The river trail was dry and firm as the light tailwind caressed me home. Given the amount of snow and rain and the sodden state of our back lawn this was surprising & in a good way.

With the clocks going forward tonight, Spring is definitely springing.

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The week in numbers, not necessarily in chronological order:

  • -14…°C the temperature with the wind chill factored in
  • -4 to -2….°C. The temperature without the wind chill.
  • 0….km on the bike (so far…)
  • 1… parking warning for not paying for a ticket
  • 2…days of paying.
  • 5…days of driving to work
  • 5…cm of snow
  • 6…mph. My average speed in the van for the 1st hour during my Friday escape from work along with the rest of Harlow (evidence below).
  • 9…bike commutes this year (sigh).
  • 12… times feeling like a wimp every time I drove past a person on a bike in the cold and snow.
  • 17… years until retirement.
  • 20… £spent on petrol more than I would normally spend per week.
  • 21…bike commutes done this time last year (double sigh 😔)
  • 30…minutes longer spent commuting home today than I normally would on a bike.
  • 50…£ spent on petrol.
  • 90…min drive home this evening.
  • 2720…working days (approx) until retirement.
  • 1360…days (approx) of bike commuting to work.
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Gee, thanks Jim

I have been posting infrequently for a while now and occasionally wonder about these blog recognition awards that do the rounds from time to time. To be recognised by peers can be a wonderful thing and this is what struck me through yesterday’s fog of pin-prick peripheries, swallowing glass shards and the sticky, lumpy phlegm of a rather virulent illness. I can’t remember when I last felt like this;the last time that I remember being physically unable to go to work was 2011 when my sinuses became infected and I needed an operation to sort them out. Most of my sick days are related to my mental being masquerading as the physical. I was nominated by Jim who writes prolifically for a full time working father of 2. I just don’t know how or where he finds the time.

These days it appears that even this kind of recognition comes with work added. I hate that (and I’m not having a pop at you for nominating me here Jim). When I get invited to an “away day” or a “team building” exercise, I know that it’s going to be so much more that a day off the usual grind. Yes, the day can be fun because it isn’t the normal work day. But all the time I think about the work that is building up in my absence and that my time would be better spent doing that than finding out about what colour I am on some theorists leadership spectrum. And then there usually some follow up objectives that the team has to come up with and this necessitates some work added to that which is waiting for me the next day. About the only positive is that it takes me another day closer to retirement…

Yes, this award comes with “rules”. Eh?! I can’t imagine Cate Blanchett being awarded an Oscar and then being asked to shoot a scene the following day only to find that she has to follow someone else’s rules of how to act. I am required to write this post according to the creator Okoto Enigma, and her rules. But enough of my ranting. I am not required to do it at all and as it’s my first time being nominated for anything on WP and I am bored stupid on my 3rd day in bed I’ll do it. Besides, Jim has nominated me-that’s reason enough to do it. Here are the rules.

• List the rules.

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.

• Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

• Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.

• Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

• You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.

• Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

• Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).

• Share a link to your best post(s).

I have fulfilled the 1st 4 so far (except for the 2nd point-I have added the logo to my post, NOT the blog). You probably have already found a couple of things out about me but here are 3 more.

  1. I am into riding a bike. But only to get from A to B. I have learnt a lot from those who write on these pages and the www on how to maintain my bike and parts for longevity, interesting and fun routes and have had a whole new world of sport opened up to me. But I don’t race nor go on group rides-I just don’t have the time because that would interfere with my 1st love…
  2. I have loved cricket since my early teens. I have never been as talented as some of my team mates but I enjoyed working hard at it to play in the same teams as them because (in the old days), they were my mates and I wanted to spend my weekends with them. I am now 50 and still play which thanks to cycling has improved my fitness and stamina. I back myself to outlast most of those half my age, even the ones who have buckets more talent than me. One day soon, I’ll be in the same team as my sons if they keep playing. That keeps me playing. To my American friends on these pages, it isn’t quite the sedentary sport that you may think it is. It’s more like baseball in the sense that there are lost opportunities galore and matches, (life itself!) hinging on the next delivery, play, hit or miss.
  3. I am a New Zealander. I have a general mistrust of Australians. This is not uncommon among people of my generation. I am certain that many of them are good people and I have meet a lot through work and sport that have challenged my view of them. I just find that I have to be utterly convinced before there is any form of trust on my part. This probably stems from watching our cricket team being cheated out of a tie in the infamous underarm incident where while they won according to the rules, it was not in the “spirit” of the game. They probably would’ve won without resorting to the antics of their captain in the last over but his refusal to “walk” when he was fairly caught out earlier in the match was pivotal in scoring the runs that they did in narrowly beating us. Their actions that day scarred me for life but is not the only reason. “Get over it!”, I hear you say. When I have the fortune to play against any of my cousins from over the ditch here in the UK, I play for my country and I play hard with no quarter but always in the spirit of the game. I always do well against them because of it so ironically I have something to thank them for. Maybe I should get over it…but nah, I would lose this edge if I did.

So onto the 5 questions…

  1. Do you have a goal in mind for your blog? No, it wasn’t certain when I started out. I just thought that I would use it as a kind of on-line diary to describe my riding so as to remember the good ones. It has kind of evolved to some of that and some commuting stuff as well as some ranting.
  2. Why do you do a blog? I also enjoy reading what others are up to and what they have to say and I look up my feed on a daily basis. This is a good form of social media for me as I can read the stuff from those whom I follow without the saturation of ads, surveys and the like that litter other platforms.
  3. What hobbies do you do outside of blogging? Apart from cricket and riding to/from work, nothing. I am a father of 2 with a full time jobs in the NHS. Back to cricket, I also run our club’s juniors section (>100 kids), coach both my sons teams and run training on Sunday mornings over the summer. Even in the winter this takes a lot of time arranging the following seasons fixtures & fundraising for new equipment. I don’t really have enough time to do it properly but I wish I did. I quite liked gardening before I rediscovered cycling but now no longer have the time.
  4. If you could stock up one thing for a lifetime supply what would that be? Money to enable me to never work again. I don’t like work and never have. And don’t try to tell me that I would miss the social element and that money doesn’t make you happy. I’m not seeking happiness, just to stop needing to work to pay an extortionate mortgage to the bank who put me in the position of not having an inflation adjusted salary rise for that last 7 years. The only thing that would stop me from retiring is missing my favourite part of the working day-the extended ride on a clear, warm summer morning at 05.30 a.m., being a part of the waking day. I’m sure that I could find ways around missing that. Like bikepacking or cycle touring France or the Danube and meeting people there instead of at work for example. I could always train to be a barista and work a machine at a local indie coffee shop for a minimal wage to meet people as well. The ride to work would be marvellously car free.
  5. What is a dessert that everyone has to try? You got me started. I have a closet sweet tooth and spent years denying myself desserts and sweet things to control my weight. It didn’t work but became habit. I don’t generally go for the dessert option these days-the starters always seem to look a better option when I eat out. Mrs B2Ws home made ice cream range is the best ice cream that I have had-brown bread , salted caramel (before it became a “thing”) and the strawberry ice cream all outstanding flavours and a welcome summer treat. If everyone has to try it then our cycle down the Danube looks like it may well happen soon!

Thanks for reading. There aren’t many that I can nominate who have probably been nominated for these things before but here they are:

Rootchopper-quirky tales of a newly retired commuter & occasional bike tourer (he was an amusing read before he retired as well…).

The Sultry Single speeder -quirky and amusing but in different ways. Look out for those tremendous bike bells and hurry up with getting them in stock already!

Like my nominee Jim, don’t feel that you have to accept. I only started it out of boredom in the man ‘flu pit and had it not been for this, the time that it took to write this would have stolen time from something else.

The 1st 3 questions are the same, the remaining 5 questions are however different- not funny nor weird.

  1. What is your earliest memory of riding a bicycle?
  2. If you could choose 3 companions to go with on a cycle tour, who would they be & where would you go?
  3. Who is your favourite author and why?
  4. What will be your next bicycle?
  5. Do you have an interesting ancestor? (come on, we all have one…)

Oh yeah, the link to my best post. I can’t name that-the best post is whatever the reader decides it is…😜

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Battery free bike light-Who’da thunk it?

Yes folks, Jim my chance and yours to get your hands on a battery free bike light-for free. Awesome!!! 🚴

Posted in commuting, cycling, Uncategorized | 2 Comments