Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

Ok, so there is no dock, and there is no bay.
But there is water.
A couple of days ago I went for a spin on the bike down by the canal.
Sometimes it is good to stop thinking about training and work and stuff, and just go for a pleasant ride in the country.
I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...

Kitted out for the ride.
I was only intending to go at a moderate pace, and it was quite chilly, so I was well dressed.
Thin merino leggings under my full-length brushed cycle tights.
A sports singlet, then a running T-shirt (you can see the blue neck!),
then a long sleved cycle jersey, then a light showerproof/windproof jacket to top it off.
Be safe, be seen.
On my bike, I just loaded a single bottle with about 500ml of dilute drink
(nice little sugar kick if I need it, plus plenty of hydration - as it was I didn't touch it).
I have a pannier on the back with a few bits and bobs, too.

The road is closed at the bridge over the canal.
The access to the canal path is just before the bridge.
Additionally, it looks like I can sneak my bike through the gap in the barrier (not shown) to the right.
I did this near the end of the trip when I reached this point for the second time.
I like signs that ban motor vehicles, but still let perdestrians and cyclists through!

Down on the cycle path.
The first bit is well maintained and surfaced.
(the canal is rather washed out in the white section to the right
- it is a spur of the Grand Union Canal, that runs from London to Birmingham)
For history buffs, During the 18th Century a lot of canals were built in Britain,
being gradually superceded by railways (a British invention!) during the 19th Century.
The Aylesbury Arm, that I am riding part of today, is a spur
(like a side branch) from the main canal, and was opened in 1815.
I believe it stopped being commercially used as late as about 1960, with low value bulk goods,
such as stone and gravel being transported.

A lot of the Aylesbury to Tring section is like this - here I am looking back towards Aylesbury, so the canal is on the right.
There is a drainage/overflow ditch on the left, so the path is on a raised causeway between the two.
Often the path is not as wide as this, and in a few places one is cycling only about a foot (30cm) from the water.
Fresh air and a bit of "nature" (although not as much as falling in the canal!) is good for the body and the mind.

It's a bit muddy ...
My Marathon Plus tyres just about managed.
Some slipping and sliding at the back in a few places.
Really one would want MTB tyres if it was any muddier than this.

The bucolic lock keeper's cottage.
Actually, this one is more likely to be a works office for the folks that own the canal.
The locks are primarily "self-service", with canal boat owners/users having a special winding arm.

A new exit from the canal - you can see tha path through the bushes on the right.
The large, flat, building is the new dairy - the largest "fresh milk" dairy in the country,
and I think it may be the largest in Europe, too.

The canal owners have done quite a lot of repair work since I last came along this way,
But the path on the Aylesbury to Tring section certainly isn't "all-weather" yet.
It had been dry for three days before the ride, yet in the late Autumn things take quite a time to dry out!

I decided to leave the canal by this rather smart path to Wilstone.
Of course, at the far end, where vehicle have used it, it is rather pot-holed.
Yet another reason why I don't own a road bike.
The extra volume in my 37mm tyres soaked up a lot of road shocks.

At the "houses" end of the path from the canal to Wilstone is a nice information sign.
(Showing its age a bit, but nice, all the same)

Every small village seems to have a pub.
This one is quite old - i'm guessing a couple of hundred years.
It has "authentic" features like a not very even roof.
Basically, if an old-looking building looks like a bunch of drunken workmen built it, is is "real".
But if everything is nice and straight and sensible, it is a modern recreation of an older style of building.

Every small village round here has a war memorial.
This, like most, is to the dead of the First World War.
WW2 is usually commemorated with an extra plaque with a few extra names.

And on to Tring High Street. Quite classy, a bit pricey, Tring is a popular place to live.
From here it is up a slight slope, then down, down, down, a big hill towards home.
Then nip across the "closed" bridge I featured near the top of the post, through 2 areas of housing on minor roads,
and it is time for a nice cup off tea.

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