With the weather turning grey and drizzly outside and looking decidedly autumnal, I was lucky to catch what was left of the rare autumn sun on the bike a few days ago. I woke up that morning and the sun was streaming in through the curtains. I knew it would be wise to make the most of this and headed out into the nearby country lanes on my Salsa Casseroll bike, Verde (or the gold bike as she is sometimes affectionately referred to as). I pedalled off at a pootle pace and took my camera with me in a pannier.
Early into the ride, just leaving the confines of suburbia there is a steep short sharp hill that beats me every time. Having gotten out of the habit of riding regularly and being nowhere near as fit as I used to be, I struggle with any form of hills or bumps. This time I managed enough momentum to make it halfway up the ascent before stopping, resting and carrying on huffing and puffing.
This photo due to the wideness of the lens angle doesn’t quite show the steepness of the hill but you get the jist of it, either that or I am just that unfit now!:
There is some outstandingly beautiful countryside nearby which is a real joy to cycle in. Having done the majority of my cycling in London, apart from a few long rides out to the coastlines or just outside of the M25 corridor; it really is lovely to have smooth tarmac roads uninterrupted by traffic lights and delightfully clean air.
I really hadn’t planned that day to be out for long or to cycle far. I only took a sports bottle of plain water and no food. I always, always get hungry cycling, perhaps from the outset this wasn’t the wisest choice!
It was one of those rides where I just kept cycling, I went through Farleigh Wallop, Nutley, The Candovers: Brown Candover, Preston Candover, Chiltern Candover and then onto Swarraton. I passed fields with black and white cows, sheep and another field with black cows looking at me with their inscrutable dark eyes giving away nothing. I cycled past sections dense with trees and many a thatched house and quaint structures before I started to realise that I was getting a bit hungry. I pedalled on further until I saw my saviour, little black jewels glistening in a hedgegrow. I stopped and hunted around for any blackberries that had not been eaten by birds and with a meagre bounty of blackberries sitting in my growling stomach, I carried on.
By this point I’d reached Old Arlesford and decided to turn round and head home as I was hungry, tired and the lactic acid was starting to build up in my muscles leading to burning quads. Long gone are the days of training at my lactic threshold and to be honest, I was hungry and getting tired by this stage. I pushed homewards, eyes greedily scanning the bushes for more berries as I pedalled along. I saw what looked like red currants glistening abundantly in the sun but as tempting as they were I wasn’t guaranteed that they were good to eat so cycled past. Eventually I glanced upon a bush groaning with blackberries and clambered up onto the knoll and had my fill until I was replete with the sweetness of wild berries. Motorists in their cars speeding by must have wondered what a lycra clad cyclist was doing ambling along the hedgegrow! I made it back in one piece powered by berries without collapsing in a heap by the side of the road (I have also been known to do this on very rare illness induced occasions). Twenty six miles roughly all in all.
A day of some of my favourite things, foraging for wild food, cycling uninterrupted in the country lanes and glorious sunshine.