27 August 2013

Ramblings from a bike

If you've a little spare time this week I urge you to take a walk, or a ride along the canal from Longwood Bridge to Daw End Bridge. During my ride this morning I was struck once again by just how beautiful this stretch of canal is and how 'unWalsall' it is, that's of course if you've never been to Walsall and are stuck with M6 stereotypical thoughts of the town! If you go this week you will still be able to view the golden wheat in adjacent fields which, surely will be harvested very soon.

The contrast between the verdant greens along the canal bank with the golden wheat and the reds of haw berries and various plants now passed their best with regards to flowering but still adding enchanting russets and yellows to the scene, is a glory to behold. My only annoyance today was that I had forgotten to pick up my camera.

Today's ride was a quiet, reflective affair. I was alone and it was peaceful. I disturbed the water vole near Longwood Bridge once again and a little further along the local Heron took flight speedily as I approached. The buzzards were calling and several times I stopped to watch them gracefully swooping and gliding, looking for prey. Swallows were still swooping down to the water and the dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies all added to a smorgasbord of colourful end of summer delights.

I was happy to see that many fathers had taken charge of their children and were introducing them to fishing and equally happy that no (underage) teenage idiots were riding the towpaths on unregistered, uninsured motorcycles with no number plates. Last week, three of us nearly ended up swimming on our bikes following such an encounter between Brownhills and Walsall Wood. I enjoyed a more pleasurable encounter today along that stretch with two young men who were surveying the banks and embankments for subsidence. There's a lot of it along there surprise, surprise!

It was also pleasing that today's dog walkers were the  responsible sort that keep their dogs on leads. After several worrying encounters recently with dogs who have a very aggressive bent towards cyclists, I was relieved.

It's been nearly two years since I got on a bike. When I first started, a ride of 10 miles was an achievement, now it's a cheeky little spin and this despite the fact that I'm now the wrong side of 50. I did query (out loud) when I started as to whether I would be able to lose my self by allowing my mind to wonder whilst cycling in the same way that walking had always allowed me to do so. It is pleasing to report that for some considerable time now my mind does its own thing quite a lot of the time whilst I'm turning the pedals allowing me to think through whatever happens to be bothering me.

I still find cycling on roads an ordeal however and I get quite anxious around female drivers of 4x4's but there again I'm always nervous when I'm being approached by a single male rider in his 30s because I have never yet met one who was prepared to give way to me. I've got used to teenage lads shouting what they believe are hysterically funny retorts at me but who scatter four sheets to the wind if you slow down and give them 'the glare'. I perhaps take for granted the friendliness of most people that you meet along towpaths but the one thing I never get used to is the utter beauty of our urban canals and how the views change as the seasons progress.

Just to finish a few photographs taken in August in earlier years:


  1. Lovely Linda. You've perfectly described how I feel when I'm out dog-walking :-) When I see a cyclist approaching, I do call Cassie to heel and hold on to her. If I'm honest, it's mainly because I don't want her getting hurt. I don't have the ears of an elk-hound though, so don't always hear cyclists approaching from behind me when I'm lost in my own world. I appreciate cute little bells aren't de rigeur, but maybe cyclists could give a friendly yell to warn of their approach?

  2. Kate, I've no beef with walkers like yourself, it's those who see me approaching (or hear me, turn around etc) and yet still feel it's OK to neither call the dog to heel or to put a lead on the animal. 'Don't worry' they say, 'he/she/it will not hurt you'. No they may not want to take a bite out of my leg but generally they wonder oblivious causing unnecessary and unwanted braking etc. Let's face it Kate, you have a brain and use it. There's a lot out there that are not so well blessed, be they dog owners or not!!

  3. Tow-paths are the worst for this I think. I rarely take Cassie along them as she always shows interest in jumping in, but I do walk along the canal at Rough Wood now and then before heading back under the trees.