Its no secret that both Paul and I have developed a real enthusiasm for the writings of Mr Charles Chadwick, I still find the early writings of the then seventeen year old Charlie hard to believe, the fact that it started almost a century ago only adding to the sense of amazement.
Todays ride was full of chatter about this extraordinary man, the fact that we chose to explore some (new to us) back lanes and restricted byways mentioned by Charlie was no coincidence.
Heading out early to allow for a car free escape paid dividends, a cool crisp morning with the promise of later sunshine was the reward. Sadly not as car free as it would have been one hundred years earlier, but satisfyingly quiet. The early miles flew by unhindered until we came upon a fallen tree, already being attended to we were allowed to walk past and enjoy the rest of the short sharp climb, breathless by the top, the cool air sending shockwaves to the lungs, that taste in the back of the throat giving hints of the impending autumn.
The previous evening we had both been perusing google earth, looking for clues as to where we were heading, picking out faint lines obscured by the tree canopy when the google satellite passed overhead.
We wondered what Charlie would have made of this marvel of technology, unimaginable back then in the days of hand drawn paper maps. As much as this is a fabulous thing we both agreed that the simple pleasures of map gazing are a far superior way to spend your down time.
However on this occasion we got the thing we wanted, obscure byways, muddy paths, bridleways, short sections of singletrack and glorious sun dappled views.
An hour of finding our bearings meant we got to ride these tracks in both directions, the odd dog walker we passed looking slightly bemused at the sight of two old blokes cycling aimlessly, frequently stopping to take photographs and grinning like lunatics on this Sunday morning.
As has become the norm for our rides these days a brew stop was required, we found a picturesque lake to sit beside, observing the no cycling signs by wheeling our bikes to a bench. Coffee made, banana muffins eaten, bike nerdery discussed, and off we set again…
It was time to head into back lanes, sadly now populated by angry speeding drivers for a short while, they were soon gone and we were back to our revelry heading towards our second breakfast. Sat outside eating sausage butties the sheer number of cyclists out on the road was another talking point, again wondering how many cyclists Charlie would have seen on his escapades?
By now the time had come to head home, we both had things to do for the afternoon, given the sunshine we opted to skip the usual return via the canal and head back over the moss, the trails still wet and muddy from recent down pours. No problem for the mudguards, but even so the bikes were filthy by the time home was reached. Filthy enough for me to do something that I don’t often do, I cleaned my bike, a rare treat and quite a contrast to Paul whose attention to bike cleaning is only rivalled by our great friend Rob, no doubt the Cross Check was given a lovely bath before being polished to within an inch of its life!
I wonder how often Charlie cleaned his bike ?
Words and pictures – Steve Makin