Saturday, 27 May 2017

Making Peace with an Old Foe.

The usual cycle continues – a few days off the bikes thanks to the usual ailments and then once mind and body have recovered and some sort of equilibrium is restored, off I go a bimbling again.

Waking up rudely early and being unable to get back to sleep saw me mounting the Jamis, and chooching off into the embryonic Thursday sunshine this week, intent on a big old ride, but also a rather mundane one, it has to be said.

This Cornish Stile is in my home port of St Erme. The footpath this gives access to runs along the edge of a field that has just been sold for development. I hope then, that both the footpath and this stile remain unmolested and don't disappear in the course of building whatever will go in there.

Random woody shot.

I was headed for a place that even today, the merest mention of which, still sends shivers down the spines of any local driver, and many an up country one too. A notorious single carriageway bottleneck on the then A30 that would suck the joy, schedule and life out of even the most cheerful and optimistic soul, and catastrophically peel open more than few high sided vehicles as well. I was heading for Goss Moor, the area between Indian Queens and Bodmin where many a radiator, and temper too, boiled terminally over, and a bit of road I hated with a passion.

The worst feature of the A30 across the moor – the low railway bridge and the bewildering inaction on behalf of the authorities to sort it, could be the subject of a long and vituperative post all on its own, but we'll save that for another day. Happy thoughts, must think happy thoughts...

 Power lines near Carland Cross. I'd be seeing more of these two tracks later on.

A brief pause in the pedaling at St Enoder church.

But of course, I wouldn't be heading for this horror of a road on a bicycle unless something big had changed, and that change happened in 2007 when the new section of the A30 running to the North of the Moor was opened, and the bottleneck was gone. What was left of most of the old road was quickly turned into part of the Goss Moor Trail, which opened a year later, and jolly good it all should be too.

 Target for the day, not the Owl Sanctuary, although I'm sure that is a hoot, but the Goss Moor Trail.

This is the new section of the usually hectic A30 that took out the old bottleneck across Goss Moor  - a long over due improvement to the road.

The trail is a seven mile loop around the boggy, marshy, gloopy, Nature Reserve, and it, and much of my ride to reach it, is flat and easy wheeling. It is a good old ride around, but the trail itself, well, it's probably just me, but... well, I find it a little boring. It's pleasant enough I suppose, especially that early on a sunny morning, but it's also a bit featureless, unless you have a Pylon and power line fetish that is, in which case you'll be in fizzing heaven on this trail. I've ridden it a few times before, and no doubt will do again, it is somewhere to go after all, but it just doesn't put fruit in my pudding in the way other rides do.

This time though I did add a little interest by seeking out a feature in Indian Queens that I hadn't known was there until relatively recently – the old Preaching Pit. And if that wasn't enough, there was also the possibility of procuring some culinary splendour on the way home, some self inflicted bribery perhaps, to make up for the effort involved in riding all that way just to be a bit bored.

 The trail is well publicised around the county in various information centres, as well as on the trail itself.

And here we are on part of the old main road, where once traffic roared shuffled along whisking shunting people and freight East and West. 

Not all of the old route of the A30 is closed to traffic, indeed the most notorious section, where many a truck twatted that bridge and created even more chaos, is still open to all comers. Thankfully though, you don't need to ride up this road to follow the trail, as you can turn right over a level crossing before getting this far.

 Ah now, this is interesting, sort of. This here is the River Fal no less. The river pops up out of the ground on Goss Moor and wends its way down to Falmouth, becoming rather wider, and one hell of a lot deeper in the course of its comparatively short journey.

Remember those power lines earlier? Well here's one of 'em. Its neighbour is just out of shot. These lines fizz all the time, in any weather, and caught me out the first time I rode up here, as I thought I'd copped a leaf or an old crisp packet in the back wheel or something, so stopped to check the bike over. Doh...

I spy with my little eye something beginning with P...
Once off the old main road, this is what you get - miles of this. All very nice to ride on, don't get me wrong, but... just a little lacking in features and excitement. 
The day though, despite a very energetic omni directional wind, was turning out to be a belter - the hottest of the year so far, and having divested myself of my jacket, I could feel my neck quickly ripening in the sun. Soon be time for the factor 50.

Fuzzy upload of the fizzing power lines.

Whoa... uh.... oh ....clangggg!!! Choochus interuptus. 
Width restrictors are to keep motorbikes off the trail, but don't play well with wide barred pushies either. Thankfully getting through is just a matter of lifting and turning the front wheel of course.

The trail isn't all bland looking scrub, towards the end it does flirt briefly with some rag bag woodland.

What the hell is going on here? Well that's a proper mess and I'm not sure how to fix it to be honest as I can only see the proper, normal sized photo in the editing bit.

Oh well, carry on and pretend it never happened...

 Back off the trail and heading back the way I'd come, it was high time I checked out the old Preaching Pit at Indian Queens. I've visited a similar feature at Newlyn East, and there are a couple of others dotted about too, but they are by no means common.

The pit is an old open mine working converted by the Methodists into a Preaching Pit in 1850.

Slightly wonky, and also fuzzy, pano of the Indian Queens Preaching Pit. 
The pit was in use for various functions until 1970 when it became overgrown. In 1976 local volunteers decided to restore the pit - an effort that took two years, but secured its future and the pit is back in use for community events once again.

Indian Queens is a village next to Fraddon (you can hardly see the join...) and both are strung out along what was the A30. How Indian Queens came to be so named is open to debate. The name was originally found on an inn that stood locally, and one story has it that a Princess arrived by boat in Falmouth, and made her way by road to London, stopping the night at the inn, and her appearance was that of an Indian woman, so the inn (and later the whole village) was renamed to reflect this. 
Some folk say that the Princess in question was in fact the American Indian, Pocahontas, but that seems a tad far fetched. However, that still hasn't stopped the road leading up to the Preaching Pit being named Pocahontas Crescent.

So the Preaching Pit is one feature of Indian Queens. Another is the road to St Columb, because just up that road is found a small shack that draws folk in from miles around, for AJ's is a pasty monger, par excellence, as they'd say in France. Or a proper 'ansum pasty shop as they say in Cornwall. AJ's pasties are top scoffery and no mistake. 
So as I was in the area, it would've been rude not to go and procure a juicy pasty for when I made it home, and I duly hung a right in Indian Queens by the mini roundabout, and made my way towards the little shack of pasty rapture. The only issue was, it was still early, just before ten o'clock in fact, too early for them to have any pasties in yet? After all, they are a bit of a lunchtime thing for the majority of folk. These were nervous moments as I pulled up and parked the Jamis outside, as I'd built myself up to this treat by now, and to go without would be hugely disappointing. There are pasties available in the shop here in my village, but they just don't butter my toast, being rather small and a tad pricey.

Don't be fooled by the unassuming facade, this little shack is home to some very fine Pasties.

Nervously I entered the shop and looked warily at the hot cabinets for signs of pasties waiting to be snapped up... would there be any there, or would the shelves be gut wrenchingly bare? Success! 
They had plenty as it happened, and the mere smell of them got my juices flowing. I paid up and made off quickly with my precious cargo, tired legs were mercilessly flogged as I mashed the pedals towards home, and I was giving my back some serious grief as well with all the effort I was putting in, but once smelled and once held, a pasty has got you good and proper and eating it is all that you can think of. I could've scoffed it at the roadside of course, or back in the Methodist's pit perhaps, but nothing beats having a pasty in the comfort of one's home, so I was on a mission to get back as quickly as I could before it got cold. A pasty can be resuscitated in the oven, but there is always a risk of drying it out when doing that, always best to consume it at its natural temperature I find.

I made it home in just under an hour from AJ's, and thanks to careful wrapping and insulating in old carrier bags, my bounty was still feeling nicely hot, and boy did it taste good!

Makes me feel hungry just to look at this photo...

So as I said earlier, a good reward for all the effort put in and on the whole, an enjoyable ride out, despite my rather negative view of the trail's excitement value. You can always rely on a good pasty to save the day!

Now this map really is crap. But if you click Here you should be able to zoom in and read graphs of elevation n' stuff.


Monday, 22 May 2017

If You Go Down To The Woods Today, You May Die.

This blog is supposed to be about how riding a bike and getting out into the countryside is a good way of combating depression and anxiety, and is just a good thing generally. The countryside is a safe, relaxing, beautiful and peaceful place... isn't it?

I've always thought our countryside and wildlife is a bit crap risk wise, compared to what some folk around the world put up with. We don't get chased by gert great hairy arsed Bears while out for a Bimble for a start: Clicky which is good. Bear Bangers and other assorted repellents are much advised as part of a rider's kit in some parts of the world.

 The first of two rides recently, and a very pleasant start to the day.

Not the result of a fly tipper I don't think, it's all far too neatly arranged for that, but more likely waiting for the council to come and collect it all.

Meanwhile other folk, like the Aussies for example, have spiders that could eat a horse to contend with. Over here we have 'humane' spider traps so when you find a great bandy legged bastard in your bath you can retrieve the beast and release it safely in your garden without having to touch it. In Oz the question of how best to deal with a spider in your bath is whether you use your under and over, or side by side shotgun to despatch the beggar with.

Foxgloves are the latest addition to the verges, and a most welcome sight they are too.

 Ah there's the fuzzy upload. Random view over a hedge, and no stabby eaty beasts or critters to worry about here.

I whipped the rack off the Jamis the other day and fitted it to the Voodoo to see if my heels would foul the panniers all the time, given the 26" wheels and short chainstays. Thankfully there is plenty of room, so now the Voodoo is equipped for carrying all sorts of extra guff and I ordered up and fitted another rack to the Jamis, so now can just swap the panniers between the two bikes.
The Voodoo in this mode now reminds me of the old Clattermonger Carrera, which is now in well earned retirement.

That's just spiders though, folk around the world have tooled up snakes, Crocodiles/Alligators, Moose/elk, and back to Oz again, five foot high bouncing things, to contend with. 

Then there's the weather. Getting caught out in the open in a thunder storm is a bit of a risk, and there's bad weather in winter on the moors and mountains, but generally our weather isn't out to kill you. No ducking low flying Chevies as a Tornado rips past your house for us Brits.

 Out for a second rural pootle and getting strafed by the Gulls is the biggest hazard here.

The Campion is looking a bit secondhand in places.

So we're pretty safe going for a ride in our countryside aren't we? We might run over a squirrel perhaps, or be startled by a chaotic Pheasant, but that's about it.

Well no, there are risks to be found even in our rural areas and the website Enjoy the Countryside has published the Dirty Dozen Dangers to be found in the Great British Countryside, and one or two of them do indeed have the capacity to really spoil your day, or worse. 

 Just bozzin' along...

 Ah now... here's a potential hazard to the speeding bicyclist - snagging your bar ends in the local vegetation... I got away with it this time, but one day I'll snag something a little more determined to yank the bars and lob me into the scenery.

And the evidence of my foolhardiness up close.

To me, the hazard to be most wary of is the tiny Tick. Nasty beggars they are as they can give you Lyme Disease as well as other debilitating and incurable infections. It is most likely an issue for mountain bikers bozzing through the undergrowth rather than a Bimbler trundling about the lanes, but still. Ticks are nasty - no question.

Cows are a known issue too, and more people are killed by Cows than by Bulls in the UK. Mostly they are very curious and friendly things, unless they have young'uns with them and feel threatened, in which case they are prone to a bit of charging and trampling, so keep your eyes open when crossing their patch on a Bridleway and give 'em a swerve is the best way forward.

 Looking across towards the Clay hills, which used to be pointy and white, but have been lopped and landscaped now to make them less obvious.

Someone was bitten by an Adder here in Cornwall a while back. He went to hospital, they gave him an antihistamine or something and sent him home again. Adders aren't really aggressive, and when approached will slither off pronto. It's usually when you tread on them that they get the hump and dig their fangs in, and that's fair enough to be honest. But the outcome isn't usually anything to be overly worried about. Some folk around the planet are dead before they can say "What the chuff just bit my le...."

Obviously some people do have real trouble with things like an Adder bite or even a Bee sting, suffering very nasty allergic reactions indeed, so I shouldn't belittle the situation. But really, adding Nettle stings and thorns to a list of countryside dangers is pushing things a tad in my book.

Divots in paths and Bridleways left by horses are a hazard to all, whether on a bike or on foot, as they can unseat a rider or twist an ankle very easily. Farm machinery is best avoided, either in the fields/farm yards or indeed, when negotiating the lanes. The biggest danger in the countryside in my opinion though is the rat running commuter, ripping through the lanes on his/her way to or from work and trying to avoid the jams on the main roads. Blind bends mean nothing to them seemingly, or in fact, defensive driving as a whole.

Another hazard for a rural cyclist are Country Dumplings, (piles of horse poop), which on a bend can provide sudden adhesion deficiency leading to an anti gravity failiure, or in other words, a big old skid and subsequent crash. Even worse if you actually land in the smelly pile of course. Plenty of scope there for a broken bone or two, maybe a nasty graze or just going home wearing a horse's dinner smeared across your side.

One other thing I'm always really cautious of when in the lanes though, is the position of the sun in regard to other traffic. I make darn sure to keep a keen ear out for any traffic that would be driving into the sun so I can get out of the way sharpish, even on wide sections of road, in case they don't see me. It's easy to lose sight of an old giffer on a slow moving bike (or a slow moving giffer on an old bike) when driving into a low sun, or indeed in the strobing effect of a tree lined road. 

Country colours.

But never mind all that, the countryside is in fact giving me some serious grief right now, even as I'm sat typing this guff in my living room. Yes, it's Hay Fever time, and my word, this year is proving to be a proper doozy for the streaming eyes, machine gun sneezes and running nose. The tablets are taking the edge off it, no more, which makes riding a bike in the countryside a bit of a pain to be honest, and believe me, when at its worst, I could cheerfully suck on a shotgun barrel and end it all just to get some relief from the scratchy eyes and itchy Palate, and they don't mention that in their list of hazards do they.


Monday, 15 May 2017

The Lanes in May...

Yep, that's what a Monday looks and feels like.
On a happier note, Fatso there got a thorough clean at last, having spent the last few weeks gathering road and trail dust in the dry conditions, before then getting mud splattered in the woods last weekend. But now all is clean and lubed once again, and if I'm up to it, I might get busy with the Pledge later and give the bike some added gloss and protection.

I also plan to swap the tyres over to even out the wear a little bit, but that involves battling with the beads and trying to get the tyres seated properly - a right pain in the posterior that is, so I might put that off for some other time...

Well, the new Bottom Bracket arrived on Friday afternoon, along with sundry tools, chain lube and the little packet of Haribo that is a feature of any Wiggle order.

Having battled with rubbish tools and rather tight threads when taking the Voodoo apart, it all went back together beautifully smoothly in less than ten minutes. When things go right, working on a bike can be every bit as rewarding and relaxing as riding it. Getting everything laid out ready, inspecting, greasing, oiling, fitting and testing - very therapeutic. So pleased was I with my few minutes work that I stayed out in the shed and cleaned the bike, and had one of those fiddle sessions. I'm happy out in the shed, don't want to go back in yet, so I find something to fiddle with. Adjusting or oiling cables, checking tyre pressures, greasing a seat post, anything to be out spending some time just pottering. Lovely.

Of course, a good Blogger would have photographed all this work and described it interestingly and informatively. But I didn't do any of that, so you'll have to imagine it for yourselves.

So anyway, that was Friday, and come Saturday morning, a test ride was in order to make sure I hadn't fitted the Bottom Bracket upside down and the bike would be pedaling everywhere backwards or something equally daft.

Saturday also carried a certain poignancy as it would have been my thirtieth wedding anniversary, were I still married that is. So to mark the occasion, I placed some flowers on my wife's grave. 

Well it wasn't far to go, I only buried her under the patio...

Ok ok... that was a bad taste joke, and my ex beloved is in fact alive and well I'm pleased to say, but Saturday would indeed have been our thirtieth, so many memories were in mind as the day progressed.

There was a very frisky South Westerly ruffling the sunny hedgerows as I headed out, reveling in the quiet and smooth running of the bike. Can a new BB really make that much difference? A certain amount of Placebo effect may have been at work, but I swear everything was quieter, and pedaling was definitely 'tighter' with the sideways slack gone from the cranks.

No prizes for guessing which of these I would follow - Tregassow Lane is where the pleasure treasure is found. I always enjoy a gentle toot along this lane, be it for the riding or the general rural ambience, it is always time spent enjoyably, even if there is a guffing great hill to climb at the far end.

But enough about the bike, because what started out as just a bimble around my usual loop to test out the bike soon became a ride of wide eyed wonder at the heaving verges, banks and hedges. In the morning sunshine the colours were just superb with all sorts of wild flowers and tarty weeds bursting out all over the shop. Add in the bird song in the background and the lanes were an absolute treat to ride. When I was riding that is, as I kept stopping every few yards for another poke about or photo session. 

 Just look at those banks - full of greens, whites, blues and pinks, all swaying in the breeze (lively wind not shown... I must start doing video...). Riding slowly along these colourful corridors in the sunny, fresh and clean air was simply a wonderful feeling.

It may be the mild and dry winter we had, but the wild vegetation does seem to be particularly thick and colourful this year. I don't seem to remember everything bursting with such life and vibrancy last year, but maybe I'm just a bit more receptive to it at the moment.

Bluebells... shoot 'em while stocks last, they'll be gone for another year all too soon.

 Hmmmm... getting away from the wonderful world of nature for a moment and a random shot of a knobbly tyre stood in a puddle (not that you'd know that background is a puddle but still).

Right, I've tried everything I know to sort out the blurriness issue on here, but however many times I upload this photo to Google it still comes up fuzzy. Must be something in the file that Google doesn't play well with, as on my PC it looks fine. Right click and open in a new window should see it displayed as intended however.

These are Germander Speedwell, and they're easily overlooked, being quite small in comparison to the other more flamboyant attention seeking wild flowers. You'd need good eyes to see them from a passing car, which is why a bike, or just walking, is needed to really see and appreciate these things.

 Getting detail in such banks of Buttercups when the sun is on them isn't easy at all with my meagre camera handling/photographic skillz. This took a bit of pushing and pulling of the RAW file in post processing to sort it all out.

 Intentional fuzziness here, as I tried to portray just how blustery the wind was. This was actually a mild gust too, I got photos that look more like an abstract artists palette such is the level of blur and the vibrancy of the colour.

Random view over a hedge.

A rather uplifting ride then, and to top it all, the bike behaved impeccably after my attempts at life saving surgery, and I made it home without a crank falling off or the bottom end vomiting bearings all over the road.

Confirmation of an enjoyable time being had also came when I scrolled through the figures on the bike's computer on reaching home - 6.58 miles covered and nearly three hours spent doing them! Now that's what quality Bimbling is all about!

Map of my regular loop - Tregassow Lane is covered by numbers one and two here, with it starting at the junction above the second letter 'e' of St Erme. Full details Here