What lies on the number 1 British rail trail beyond the village of Drayton, if one is inclined to go for a ride of more than 5 miles?
Sadly, blog fans, your temporary UK correspondent cannot report that information. We have done lots of walking in Norwich (Amanda and Matt don't have British driver's licenses and don't have a car). On Friday, we walked over to see Matt at work, and got back to the house mid-afternoon.
Despite no helmet, since Matt had worn his to commute that morning, I decided to go for a final ride using Matt's second bike. I took out the pump and wrestled with the narrow valve, and managed to get it more inflated.
I rationalized that, since 90 percent of the ride would be on a trail, I could get by with just my baseball cap.
The day had started cloudy, but cleared off. It was windy and cooler than it had been, but nice.
The trail, on a late Friday afternoon, seemed more crowded. And for some reason, I saw more “characters.” There was a man parked on a bridge, gazing sadly off into the distance. I wondered if his wife Genevieve had just received bad news about the biopsy of her lump, or maybe some favored player had been traded to a rival rugby team. I approached a jogger from behind ,and several things were odd. He was athletic, quick and purposeful, and kept glancing as his watch, the way a serious runner would time himself. But he also wore a pith helmet with a plastic tassel on top, and had a very large toy stuffed sheep strapped to his chest.
That must have been a heck of a bet he lost in the pub. Or he is merely deranged. Or prepping for April 1, which in the UK is just a day for jokes, not practical jokes.
Anyway, my plan to was to enjoy this unexpected last ride by going on beyond Drayton, farther into the English countryside than I had before.
But, when I got to Drayton, there was the UK “people working” sign, a picture of a man pushing a weird triangular shovel, and a closed gate. I suppose I could have opened the gate, but I decided against it, thinking I could always try again to find the trail in City Centre.
So I stopped, photographed the panoramic view from the bridge near Drayton, and my bike, posing with my hat. I felt it was reminiscent of Jenion's photo with her blog post about biking.
Then I climbed on my bike, and headed on my way back. Except it started to feel wobbly. I checked the front tire, which was fine, and figured maybe my imagination was acting up, but as I rode I became convinced it was definitely unstable. Then I checked the back dire.
Well, sticky toffee pudding and other quaint cartoon swear words. The “tyre” was soft. Not flat, but way softer than it had been. I decided to put as much distance on the tire before it became impossible to ride.
It didn't take long.
I felt as if I were less than halfway back, which meant a 3 to 4 mile hike, pushing a bike. Blog fans, CR Biker does not like to walk a bike – so much so that even on the most daunting hills of RAGBRAI, I always rode. Bikes are to ride, they are not walking companions.
I had a cell phone, and tried to call Amanda's home. It took a while for me to figure out how to unlock the keypad, but I had plenty of time. I called, and assured Amanda I was OK, but would be back a bit late.
As it turned out, I don't think I was as far as I thought. It was an hour walk back. I was sore from a week of walking, but still I was OK.
So, the final ride turned out to be a ride-walk.
Still worth it, but I'm glad I was not on beyond Drayton when the wobbly part started!