Laburnum

Laburnum
pods hang
in beige clusters.
Drab mockery of springtime
glory.

Advertisements

Changes

Reluctant rainfall
has in part re-greened the lawn.
Subtle changes herald fading summer.
The drought continues, moorland burns.

MTB World Championships

Rebecca Leaper

Rebecca Leaper

Last week I mentioned in passing that my daughter Rebecca had come over from her home in Spain to compete in the UK National MTB (Mountain Bike) Marathon Championships on the Isle of Man, where she won the Silver Medal. I also mentioned in passing that her next race would be the World MTB Marathon Championships in Italy in September. (See Recent Rides.)

Becky has a World top 10 ranking and will represent GB at the World Championships, however she has no funding from UK Cycling. Apart from her bike and kit from ‘Coluer’ and her wheels from Sixth Element she is entirely self-funded and this is a very costly exercise. She is looking for small sponsorship donations to help fund her expenses in order to attend the World Championships and have the opportunity to compete head to head with the world’s best. You may also like to check out her blog at: https://madcyclinginthemiddaysun.wordpress.com

If you feel you can make a donation, however small, please click on the following link and read her story. Every little helps. Thank you.

https://www.sponsor.me/rebeccaleaperMTB

Relief

Cool and overcast,
after rain overnight.
The earth breathes a sigh
of relief, drinks thirstily
and pleads for more.

In Shorts

Gardening in shorts
was perhaps
not the best idea.

Legs now scratched
by brambles
in the ‘wilderness’ corner!

Recent Rides

I keep telling people this is not a cycling blog. Mostly it is a ‘small stone’ blog but once a week a write about other things that interest me. Of late I admit that most of those ‘other things’ have been about cycling. That’s because it is summer and I am doing quite a lot of cycling at present. So now I am about to bore you with a bit more cycling.

Recently two things came together. First as I mentioned in my previous recent posts we have been exploring some trails listed in our Sustrans book and secondly our daughter Rebecca who lives is Spain and blogs at: https://madcyclinginthemiddaysun.wordpress.com. was over for a few days to compete in the UK National MTB Marathon Championships on the Isle of Man (she came 2nd) and managed to spend the odd day with us either side of her competition.

What connection do these things have? you might ask. Well we all decided that while our daughter was here we would go out for a family ride, my husband, me, daughter, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson – all 7 of us. There is a local trail ride along a disused railway line that is not listed in our Sustrans book as a day ride although it is part of the National Cycling Network. The Stafford Greenway begins some 7 or 8 miles from our home and it goes all the way to Newport in Shropshire – about 20 miles.

We have never ridden this route. It’s funny how you often don’t visit the places nearest to home! Anyway we thought this would be a good ride for our grandson to tackle on his new bike so off we all went on Tuesday last week, drove into Stafford, parked the cars, unloaded the bikes and rode along the trail from the centre of Stafford to the village of Haughton (about 5 miles) where we left the cycle route to ride into the village for an ice-cream at a lovely farm park. Here sadly my grandson got stung on a finger by a bee which curtailed the ride as he couldn’t hold his handle bars due to the pain and swelling. So Dad (my eldest son) had to cycle off the get their van to pick up him and Mum while the rest of us made our own way back at a slightly faster pace. In total about 10 miles round tip for the afternoon. Someone kindly took a picture of us all on hubby’s camera but as he hasn’t yet downloaded it to share with me I can’t share it with you. The day ended with them all coming to us for dinner, finger well recovered by then and all smiles again; a wonderful end to the family day.

After our daughter returned to Spain on Wednesday hubby and I decided it would be nice to do a bit more of this local route, so on Friday we cycled into Stafford then we picked up the trail and rode along the route the opposite way to the direction we had gone before, right to the ‘end of the line’ at Beaconside on the outskirts of Stafford, then by various roadside cycle lanes and country roads in a big loop back home. A trip of about 20 miles.

Norbury Junction

Refreshment stop as Norbury Junction

On Sunday we decided on yet another stretch of the Greenway trail. We cycled via country lanes to the village of Haughton, picked up the trail where we had left it on our family ride and rode along to the next village, Gnosal, where we again left the route and made our way home via the lanes, which included a stop for a drink and a bite to eat at Norbury Junction beside the canal. Then we tackled the steep hill up to the village of High Offley (the hint is in the name). We have only attempted this hill 2 or 3 times before and I have always had to get off and walk the last part of it. On this occasion, I am pleased to say, I managed to get all the way up – it felt like a real achievement! The round trip this time was about 19 miles.

Chain ring tattoo

Chain ring tattoo!

When we arrived home I discovered I had acquired a tattoo! At one of our stops for a swig of water and a muesli bar I must have leant my leg against my chain ring, which my husband had kindly oiled for me that morning. Why me? This, I might add, is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last I do not doubt.

We thoroughly enjoyed all three trips along sections of this trail. The first was precious as we were out in force as a family and the third was enhanced by my hill achievement.

We have now decided that having neglected this lovely trail so close to home for so long we really ought to go and cycle the whole route – once we have worked out the logistics of getting to and from the start and finish. If we drive to Stafford we will need to get back from Newport somehow to pick up the car – a return trip of another 20 miles if we cycle back the way we went. If we set off from home by bike it will add another 7-8 miles to the start and another 9 or 10 miles back from the finish – we will need to pick a fine and fairly cool day when we are feeling energetic. No doubt if and when we do it I will report on the ride here!

Flying 2

Fly in,
fly out.
It seems so long
since her brief visit!

Flying

Fly in
for fleeting visit,
fly out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our daughter flew in from Spain on Wednesday last week, spent a day with us then went on to the Isle of Man for the weekend to compete in the UK National MTB Marathon Championships where she came 2nd (silver medal) in appalling weather. We picked her up from the ferry on Monday and she spent yesterday with us again before we dropped her off at Birmingham airport to fly back to Spain this afternoon. A short and sweet visit, but wonderful to see her as it is the first and only time this year! Her next race is the World Championships in Italy next month.

Sleep

Cooler, fresher,
windy, showery,
sunny spells.
Night-time bliss,
catching up on sleep
at last.

Grafham Water

My previous post told of our cycle ride round Rutland Water last Saturday. On Sunday we packed up and set off down to Grafham Water, another reservoir constructed in the 1960’s in Cambridgeshire, also with a Sustrans cycle route round it. This is a smaller reservoir and so it is only a 10-mile ride, the route does not hug the shore-line quite so closely and there are more public road sections.

Grafham campsite

Shooters Hollow Farm Campsite

The campsite we had chosen was again quite close. It wasn’t the best campsite we have ever been to though in the photo is looks idyllic, and in many ways it was. However there were no facilities so we had to be self-sufficient, but we had the place to ourselves and it was very peaceful. What the photo doesn’t show is that behind me to my left was a line of caravans in storage, many of which looked as if they had been there for a very long time and were unlikely to move ever again!

At Rutland Water we were able to pick up the trail just down the lane from the campsite so we didn’t start at the ‘official’ starting point and didn’t pick up a trail map, just relied on the small map in our Sustrans book. This was a bit of a mistake as the signs were not always immediately obvious and after one short road section we missed the trail and ended up cycling through the village of Edith Weston to join the trail again on the other side of the (very picturesque) village. So this time, when we went for our reconnoitre on Sunday afternoon to see where we could access the trail we found that our nearest access point was in fact the ‘official’ start, about 1.25 miles from our campsite, and we made sure we picked up a trail plan from the cycling centre.

View of Grafham Water

View of Grafham Water

We set off for the ride on Monday morning on what proved to be a very hot day. You know the old adage ‘horses sweat, men perspire but ladies merely glow’? – rubbish. I sweated. Gallons. Especially under my helmet and from my forehead. The ride, however, was lovely; the trail was rougher, with more loose stuff than Rutland Water, but more gently undulating with more frequent shaded areas of woodland and also fewer gates and cattle grids to cope with which was great. The downside was that with the route using more roads and lanes and hugging the shore less the views of the lake were less frequent. Nature conservation and bird watching were still in evidence, there was also a sailing club but no beach or water park this time.

Grafham Church

Grafham Church

For first road section lead us through Grafham village and past the very pretty village church. There was a sign outside offering books for sale in the church porch so that was our first stop as my husband had just finished the only book he had with him. We were both able to find a book of interest and duly put our donations in the collection box. We were not troubled by midges this time until we crossed the dam near the end of the ride. Here they bombarded us in the face as we rode along and, although they don’t bite, there was a risk of breathing them in through mouth or nose. I held a handkerchief to my face for protection!

It was so hot that stops to drink, eat muesli bars and cool down were frequent, wherever we could find shade. Again we were in no hurry, just ambled around at a comfortable speed. With the 2.5 miles extra there and back to the campsite we did about 12.5 miles in all; not a heroic distance, but it took us about 2 hours including our stops and again we were back at the motorhome in time for lunch. We spent the afternoon relaxing and trying to keep cool. Everything that opened on the motorhome was opened to let as much air through as we could. Fortunately the van was positioned so that one side provided shade and that’s where we sat, read, dozed and did as little as possible – I am not a sun-worshipper and the heat was about as much as I could bear!

Tuesday saw us packed up early to get a good start before it become too hot again and we were back home by lunchtime after another enjoyable mini-cycling adventure weekend. Now we have to decide where we are going next, and when, but that probably won’t be for a week or two yet.

Previous Older Entries

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

Supporting the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!