Sunday, 23 April 2017

Mutterings and Pictures from Yesterday's Potterings.

I've just nipped out to the shed to return a can of GT 85 to its shelf after lubing the squeaky tilt mechanism of my computer chair, and found myself admiring and inspecting the rather road dust covered Jamis. The tartier bright blue Voodoo normally grabs my visual attention more when opening the shed door, and it does get ridden more often as well. But I've now taken to riding the Jamis more, planning rides that suit my particular vision of its purpose – a sort of overweight, leaden forked, local tourer.

This appreciative staring session came as a result of not just another enjoyable ride yesterday, but a momentous one, in a small way that is, as the bike's computer ticked, or whatever digital displays do – pixelled possibly, over 1,000 miles.

Getting towards the end of yesterday's ride and a mini milestone is reached.

This makes it the third of my stable since becoming a 'born again' cyclist, to go over the 1,000 mile mark, the old Snotter Carrera being the first, and still holder of the highest mileage award too, with 1170 miles under it's scruffy wheels. Second comes the Voodoo, eight months newer than the Jamis, and currently sat on 1041 miles while Fatso, a year younger again than the Voodoo being a December 2015 purchase, isn't far behind on 953 miles done.

These mileages are small change to a lot of riders of course, but for me I look on them with a degree of satisfaction, as taking up riding again hasn't always been an easy process what with all the problems I have going on, but it was something I thought and hoped I may be able to do given some care and forward planning, and not only have I been proved right, but the benefits have been far beyond what I initially imagined.
I really do wonder just how I'd be, what sort of state I'd be in physically and mentally, if I hadn't got back on a bicycle.

My vehicles have always been more than just tools to me over the years too, and my bicycles are no exception. They're not just a collection of parts that deliver mobility and the sensation of travelling through the air, they are companions (Oh lordy what is he on about now...) on a trip and also an extension of myself as well, literally really as on a bicycle your body is what makes the thing work.

Heading out into the overcast morning accompanied only by the sound of what I think are Skylarks.

So even though my bikes are at the cheap end of the spectrum, I still take pride in them and want to look after them mechanically and aesthetically, because they are also part of what I see as my identity.

I think that comes from being a (motor) biker for most of my adult life, as riders were often known by what bike they rode first – 'That bloke with the red Bonneville' because everyone would know who you were talking about, and it is easier to describe the bike than rider – 'You know the chap – black leather jacket, open face lid, jeans...' doesn't narrow things down much. Once their name was learned, then they'd become 'Fred with the red Bonnie' before finally, usually many months later, becoming just Fred, but with his red Bonnie still in mind as you thought of him, unless he sold it and got a Suzuki instead, in which case he became 'That bleddy tw*t Fred,' but we'll gloss over that.

To me then I feel my bikes are a big part of who I am – 'The old bloke with the stoop, who creaks and grimaces about slowly on a bike, and is always taking photos of some flipping flower, weed or a puddle or whatever it is he sees next'.

 A glimpse of Probus through a gateway.

Crossing the Tresillian River near Truck Fork junction, Probus.

So even hitting a lowly figure of a thousand miles clocked up on a particular bike is something I feel pleased about. Not enough to treat the bike to a thorough clean mind, 'fraid not, no. I did wipe the chain clean of road dust though to show my appreciation, but as it's just dust and not mud and cow poo blathered all over, a proper clean can wait, as the bike's black paint looks sort of good covered in the grime of dry weather combat. Dust I don't mind, mud all over a bike is less pleasing.

All of which is a long winded way of sort of saying I had another ride on a bike yesterday, and quite enjoyed it!

 A random shot of the view ahead, nothing special admittedly, but still pleasingly rural and peaceful.

It was open day on the Tregothnan Estate, and I met closed roads and also a poorly thought out temporary one way system. The upshot of all that being I didn't go where I wanted to, and ended up being pushed back onto lanes I rode just last weekend, but never mind, it was all good.

 One of those scenes the camera doesn't particularly capture well, but this bit of roadside was awash with vibrant colour with Ramsons in the foreground, Bluebells and even the Rapeseed in the distance adding to the greenery. 

 I Spy a lone ranger... the Ginger kid of the Bluebell pack, a bit of a loner. A single white Bluebell (eh?) in a sea of blue.

 Pitching up in a gateway to gawp at the view, I disturbed a Pheasant that was sat in the pile of compost, possibly because it was giving off warmth. Rather than panic as these dim witted creatures tend to do, this one merely crept about slowly, presumably hoping I hadn't seen it, and not wanting to scarper, maybe in case it couldn't find its nice warm patch again once I'd left.

 More roadside Ramsons.

Old boy pottering past Lamorran Woods.

Lining up a random lane shot, I was pleased to see a roadie round the distant bend to add some interest to the scene. A very friendly chap he was too, stopping for a brief natter before setting off bound  for Portloe. I was to pass him later on as he was heading back to base, having gone round in a big old loop. They cover some ground these roadies.

 A Primrose sticking out of a wall.

More Ramsons, this time in a superb display in the woods at the entrance to the Tregothnan estate.

 Arriving in the (very) small village of St Michael Penkevil, with the old School house in the foreground, church behind. 

 Uh oh... Another yellow car spoiling a picturesque view. How dare they do such a thing? I'm entitled to an uncluttered photo! Don't they realise this? To those who aren't getting my drift, THIS story made the news recently.

Blurry looking upload of the bench, water supply and cottage in need of some paint, at St Michael Penkevil.

 Looking down at Tresillian from the St Michael Penkevil lane.

 Well now that explains a lot... Riding towards Tresillian I had my suspicions something was afoot and these signs confirmed it - I'd just been riding Salmon like against the flow of traffic in the shonky temporary one way system. I wasn't the only one though, as I was overtaken by a van along the way, the driver of which was also spending a lot of time tucked into the hedge allowing oncoming traffic to pass. Better signposting at junctions would help, not everyone in the area is going to, or coming from, the Tregothnan open day.

Map of my Saturday chooch. Not what I had planned, but still a good ride. Full clickable version can be found here


Friday, 21 April 2017

Bluebells in Idless Woods.

Up and down the country, people writing articles and blogs, will be looking in the small book of Bluebell cliches and inserting the word 'carpet' into their guff. It's with good reason too, as there isn't really a better word to describe the spectacular covering of the flower found in some areas - blanket maybe, but carpet is the word that works best.

Bluebells are also a photographic cliche of course, every beggar armed with a camera and who isn't afraid to use it will be out bagging Bluebell shots, and I'm no exception. They are another sign of spring, and a quite dramatic one as well, if you're in the right place that is. Elsewhere though they gather in clumps on the verges and in gardens, and a splendid sight they make too.

So having photographed a few on the roadsides recently, I thought it time to go and poke my camera where I know a goodly number of Bluebells can be found, in my local woods in fact, Idless.

Bit of a Bluebell theme going to be happening in this post, as if you need telling. This photo taken in the lane towards Idless Woods.

The only thing is, the carpet cliche doesn't get pasted into any text describing the display in these woods. No lush azure Axminsteresque shag pile stretching to the horizon to be found here, just a bit of a rug really, a rather threadbare Poundland one at that. But as a wise man once said, "You can only pee with the cock you've got" so with that in mind, I headed into the wood bent on getting some photos, and pretty crap they are too. I've done the camera mounted low on the chain stay and riding past at speed shots many times before so wouldn't be doing that again, but I really couldn't come up with a good alternative, so ended up hoisting the GoPro up in the air on a selfie stick to at least get a view looking down on them. I tried with the compact camera, and indeed, with the wide angle and the telephoto on the DSLR but just couldn't get a decent photo of the spot where the Bluebells are spread out en masse (well, sort of). It's not just the floral display that's found wanting then, but my photographic skills as well. 

Hmmm... not the most dramatic of displays you'll ever see.

I knew all this though of course, having rushed into the woods excitedly in all the previous years, only to suffer photographic frustration, so the disappointment was not unexpected.

Oh knackers, blurry upload time...

 The top path in the woods is pretty much dry all the way along now, a rare thing at this time of year. 

Old giffer bimbling through the woods.

A typical Cornish' Cattle' stile on the edge of the woods. So named as they were constructed to deter cattle, using their height and being able to see daylight through them to put curious hairy/furry/woolly things off. I'm not sure if such creatures can use other forms of stile mind you, can't say I've seen cows scaling the normal wooden stile on their way for milking for instance, but maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

So, measly smattering of flora done, it'd be rude not to carry on with a ride around the woods while I was there so I made my way along the upper path and by passing the car park at the main entrance, I boldly went into a part of the wood I've only explored once before. Now there is a good reason why that is - you can't ride a lot of it, having to get off and push as the narrow path is pretty overgrown in places, branches hang bonce batteringly low, and fallen trees lie across the path defying even the best of bunny hoppers. But you do get the feeling of being in a bit of a wilderness, albeit a pretty safe one. No crowds of yummy mummies or dog walkers round here, but they're not far away. Pushing the bike is not ideal for me, and I have to proceed carefully to avoid giving my back grief but on the beautiful sunny morning we had yesterday, it was well worth the considerable effort. This part of the wood has a bit of a wild feel about it, as if it has been left to its own devices, and sitting beside the burbling gurgling stream in amongst all the thick rag bag woodland, it felt like a scene that might not have changed at all in centuries.

Going a bit mad over a simple stream. On a hot day that water trickling down the hillside might look very appealing to a thirsty explorer, but it drains down from a cattle field, through a big wet patch of mud and cow bombs. No doubt there's plenty of cow pee in it as well, so it might have a bit more flavour than one might expect.

 This tree fell over quite some time ago by the look of things, but with roots still in the ground, it's far from dead, and the branches are pointing vertically upwards from the trunk in a line rather than out from all angles.

Random shot of spring growth.

Busting carefully out of the bushes onto the more well trodden path, I then faced the dilemma of whether to ride home via the lanes, or a bimble back through the woods, and after a few minutes of trying to make my mind up, I eventually opted for the latter. It was also getting on towards lunchtime, and I was as hungry as a bear that missed breakfast, so no photo stops were made on the return leg as the lure of Chicken Noodle simmer soup grew stronger the nearer home I got. 

Another enjoyable ride in the bag, and a much needed bit of relaxation after a couple of days of going into town. In the meantime, I can only look jealously at the photos of seas of gloriously dense Bluebells taken by other folk as I rather embarrassingly post my crappy shots of our meagre offerings. Is Bluebell envy a 'thing'? If it is, I think I'm suffering from it...

Map is on the crappy side of basic, but gives a rough idea. Total mileage according to the bike's computer was 7.4 miles, while the mapping site suggests 5.1 so the real figure is probably in the middle. 6 something or other then.


Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Bimbles.

Aaargggghhhh... flaming blurry photo uploads... Some of these shots look pants!

A (very) Good Friday.

A couple of months back I embarked on an ill fated pootle round a big loop taking in Merther Church, Ruan Lanihorne and Tregony, among other highlights. But about half way round I ricked my back a proper beauty when righting the bike after getting its chain back on. The rest of the ride then was done very slowly indeed, and was a pain racked affair. But I still put it down as a good ride, as up until that point, I had been really enjoying it, and from what I saw through squinting, grimacing eyes, the rest of it looked good too. Unfinished business there then, and so as Good Friday approached I had it in mind to do the loop again, but this time in the opposite, clockwise direction.

Once again the Met Office had got it spot on and come the day itself, it was dull and grey out, but with no wind to speak of. I'd got the Jamis ready the night before, so it was just a matter of punting it out of the kitchen door and into the quiet of the bank holiday morning. Within minutes of setting off, I just knew the day was going to be a good one. I'd actually managed to convince myself to have a bank holiday myself - try and give my head a rest, try not to worry about stuff out of my control and try and relax and immerse myself in what I enjoy most, pottering about on the bike and taking photos. 

What a great day it turned out to be too. The area I was riding around is a little off the beaten track, and is pretty quiet anyway, but on Friday there really was nobody about. Time and time again I found myself reveling in the tranquil calm, with only the local birds making any noise, along with the hum of the bike cruising slowly along. It doesn't get much better than that.

It's a picturesque route too, with the Rivers Fal and Ruan featuring prominently, plus plenty of woodland to ride through, in a landscape that at times reminded me more of the Scottish Highlands than Cornwall.

All in all, an utterly superb ride, and for the first time in months, I felt thoroughly invigorated, stimulated and elated, and that's a lot of 'teds! Anti depressant tablets just don't give results like that - recreational drugs might I suppose, but the tablets don't even come close, and a bike ride has to be better than doing drugs. It's cheaper for a start...

Anyway, enough blather, here's a ton of photos to look at instead.

 The old barn beside the rail bridge at Truck Fork, Probus.

Probus at half past eight on Good Friday morning was still a busy place. A few folk were enjoying fried breakfasts too judging by the mouth watering smells I sniffed in the air riding through the village.

Heading out of Probus I heard a 'splabberslapsplabber', like someone emptying a sack of flip flops onto wet concrete, and suddenly the road in front of me was splattered in huge white dollops of bird poo as some unseen bird, or birds (probably Gulls judging by the size of poo bombs), carpet bombed me. Thankfully their aim was a little off and bike and I escaped unsullied. 
Then a little further on, I found this freshly carked Pheasant (above). These really are dim witted birds it has to be said, and riding around the lanes they are a constant chaotic presence, but it's still sad to see one cop it like this. Like so many birds we just take for granted, when you actually really look at them, you realise just how striking and beautiful their colours and markings can be.

Cornelly Church - named after St Cornelius, is a parish church with no similarly named village, although it is about a mile from Tregony. The church was built in the 13th century  and is an odd looking concoction. The main body, or the Nave, is a very elegant double barreled affair, but the tower looks completely out of proportion, and at a wonky angle too. A very odd looking church I reckon.

 The yellow theme in the countryside continues. The Daffodils might be gone (although white Daffs can still be seen growing commercially in the fields) but Rapeseed now dominates the view in places, and the exposure meter of the camera as well.

 Informative erm... information board at Ruan Lanihorne. I had a good mooch around the pond, and did see a couple of Sparrows, and an empty Quavers packet. I checked back on the board, but the Quavers packet wasn't listed there, maybe I'll send the Parish Council a photo so they can add it.

The pond at Ruan Lanihorne.

 Just out of Ruan Lanihorne, beside the Ruan River, and a great spot to pause for a brew up on the stove.

 Latte Caramel, tasty! 
Flasks are ok I suppose, as are cafes, but boiling up a kettle on a camping stove is so much more satisfying. The smell of meths (I use a Mini Trangia stove) reminds me of the Mamod traction engine I had as a child, and also past camping trips around Europe done by motorcycle, with a full size Trangia.

Latte supped, I loaded up the bike, swung my leg over, set off and promptly stopped again about ten yards up the road to grab this shot of the blossom. My rides are usually like this, full of stops to look for, and take, photos, so progress can be very slow at times, but who cares when you're the only one on the ride?

 Sett Bridge over the River Fal near where the Ruan River joins. The noise of the water here was superb, but I must come back when we've had a wet winter, it must be quite something when it's really flowing through here.

The view from Sett Bridge looking towards Lamorran Wood.

The sky kept looking like it might dispense a shower or two at times, but I really couldn't have cared if it had, in fact I was sort of hoping it would, as the pitter patter of light rain through these woods must sound magical.

These lanes were so quiet it was like I had the world to myself at times, the only reminder of civilisation being the occasional distant sound of an airliner flying over.

Tucked away beside the River Fal is Lamorran Church. Built in the mid 13th century, the church has never been enlarged, the only work done since being the odd major restoration and general maintenance.
More blurred uploads. Right click and open in a new tab sees them appear properly.

Photos above are all where the road closely follows the River Fal. 

While taking the above shot through the fence, a car did appear and the driver stopped to ask if I was photographing the Kingfishers in the adjacent river. I had to admit I wasn't, and was actually photographing the bike (always an embarrassing admission that). But according to the chap, not only were Kingfishers resident here, but also Otters, although being able to see the latter in daylight would be highly unlikely.

Talking of Otters, here's a bonus little print out and keep ditty:

She was only the Miller's daughter,
She lived beside the Mill.
The water was full of Otters,
But she was 'otter still.

Oh ok, back to the photos...

 This part of Cornwall, like my bathroom mirror of a morning, is an AONB, or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it shows, even on a dullish day such as Friday.

The Jamis behaved itself this time, so we're all friends again. It took a bit of fiddling but I finally got the stem/bar combo sorted and the bike is now comfortable for me. Adding a rack and panniers just tempts me into piling on even more weight to lug up hills, but hey ho. For a cheap (£300) bike, it's not bad really, at least for my modest needs anyway, and I really must ride it more often.

The sun did make a few brief appearances, meanwhile the ominous at times sky failed to drop any moisture.

 Heading towards Tresillian from the St Michael Penkevil area is one long down hill, and most enjoyable it is too.

 Flipping fuzzy photos... Anyway, it's not often these signs are relevant to me and my cycling, but on this occasion, in full on hurtle mode, I finally had a sign that I needed to obey.

And this is why that sign is there, a nice corner to go honking round - great fun!

The last photo from my Good Friday ride, but one that sums up just how much I was enjoying things. So invigorated was I, and so enjoying hooning down the long hill to Tresillian, that I even took my hat off and hung it on the bar ends to feel the wind rushing through my hair over my number two buzzcut. For the first time in a long time, it just felt great being alive.

A superbly uplifting ride on Friday then, although also quite a knackering one, some of the hills encountered are ugly affairs to  put it mildly, and my legs were aching somewhat the following day.

Crappy map of the ride, and for some reason the lane I took down into Tregony isn't shown, so it's not 100% accurate either. 
Fuller details can be found here 

I was still feeling a bit weary come Easter Sunday, otherwise I'd have headed back to the area via different lanes to get another nature fix, also it would've taken the Jamis over the 1,000 mile mark. But instead I took the Voodoo round my regular loop just to keep the legs turning and the calories burning. It was a beautiful day too, so I was glad I made the effort to get out, brief though the ride was.

Germander Speedwell in Tregassow Lane. 

 And looking the other way, a Bluebell.

I got home to find the air thick with the pleasant aroma of GT 85, as my neighbour Craig was cleaning the Specialized Tri-Cross belonging to a lady friend of his. This is a bike I admire muchly, a very practical looking machine and could be, or a bike of a similar ilk, a good addition to my riding stable. But I'm not sure how I'd get on with the narrow and low drop bars, and also the skinnier tyres. I think the bars and maybe harsher ride would give my back too much grief, which is a shame to put it mildly. Gravel/Adventure bikes offer fat tyres and wider drop bars, so further investigation might be in order if I ever decide to add another bike.

Right, that's that for my Easter Bimbles, time for some Hot Cross Buns...