Saturday, March 31, 2012

In Which I Fail to Go on Beyond Drayton

Bike on bridge near end of ride (the end of riding, too). Bike (not Matt's) in water near end of walk, and pretty English countryside view from final bridge.

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!

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