Monday, March 26, 2012

I Half Expected to See Hobbits

Grafitti on trail. "Rural" UK scene ... note houses on horizon. Trail was old rail line .... some of the rails were recycled on the trail. Bike I rode.

Or perhaps some Black Riders. Yes, blog fans, CR Biker has had his first British biking adventure. It was a fine, warm March afternoon, and while the ladies attempted to nap--succeeding in Audrey's case, failing in Lizzie's and therefore Amanda's case--I headed out.

I borrowed Matt Moscou's bike and his helmet, which I had to adjust to a bigger head size. It was a bit odd riding an unfamiliar bike and even odder trying to ride it in a land where they ride on the left. I didn't have any close calls to speak of, but did have to constantly remind myself, and messed up at least once on a mercifully quiet stretch of road.

Anyway, fortunately, there was little road riding. I left Amanda's home around 1:30 and headed just a few blocks north and west. I had to snake through some back alleyways, which, he noted in an overt bit of foreshadowing, proved consequential, but found my way to the bike trail.

We had been on the trail briefly this morning as part of a long stroll to several parks and Amanda's old neighborhood.

I wanted to ride the opposite direction from where we walked, but failed at first and had to turn around. After the change in directions, I quickly left urban Norwich behind. The trail follows a narrow river valley and quickly takes the rider into a quaint land of woods and farm fields. It reminds one of a ride on the Cedar Valley trail near Cedar Rapids, but not quite as rural—the fields are smaller, they are more often grass than anything else, and there are often closely packed houses on the horizon rather than Iowa's more open rural vistas.

Still, it was a very pleasant ride. With the quaint little fields, and small country houses, I have expected to meet Frodo and company dodging some Ring Wraiths. The trail was paved in town, but quickly became compacted dirt in the countryside. I went a bit past the village of Drayton, and I estimate my round trip was probably a bit over 10 miles.

Hard to say, for sure. I was not familiar with the bike nor the countryside.

Still, all in all, a substantial ride. I like the signage in England, several notices urged me to call the police if I observed “antisocial behavior.” Or something like that, because the Brits throw in some extra vowels in “behavior.” No parking signs begin with the dire warning: “polite notice.”

Anyway, although I had to stay on my alert for tree roots, sticks, soft dirt and piles of what seemed to be horse or pony poo, I enjoyed the ride.

Until the end.

When I got lost.

Yes, I know, given the length and complexity of the route, I do take a certain pride in managing to get lost, but I did it. Not for long. The route between Amanda's 'hood and the main bike trail contains a spaghetti network of side trails through a park, and the 4-minute transit of the park ended up being 20 minutes or so.

But, I'm back. I wanted to be back before 3, but made it by 3:15 or so. Not sure how many more times I'll go riding, but I may again yet this week. It was fun.

Sadly, however, no Hobbits.

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