30 Days of Biking #26 – Leisure ride

I thought it would be nice to include a longer, non-commute-y or errand-y ride among my April cycling endeavours.

Luckily not one but two opportunities were available yesterday:

I could have done both but after a rather manic week (including plenty of physical activity and a free fitness kickboxing class the previous night), I needed to schedule some rest and time to potter about the house, so I picked one – for various reasons, the Good Gym one.

The ride started with a short brief from leader Lisa (who was also one of the volunteers at the Pedal Revolution exhibition I’d been to on Friday, small Bristol biking fanatics world), then off we went on a route that turned out to be familiar in parts as it went through Eastville Park, but past my usual running route and along the Frome – lovely.

My bike and I were unsurprisingly the problem children at the back – my D-Lock fell off, forcing me (and everyone else) to stop while I retrieved it and tucked it away in a pannier; my chain also fell off at one point but I put it back on in a second and was off again, which I felt pretty good about. I was also secretly pleased when the rider in front of me struggled with tight corners I took with relative ease – perhaps I should have recommended Life Cycle coaching 😉

The ride was overall fairly fast paced (Lisa had told me when I called for information the day before that it had to be “a bit gym-y” to fit in with the group’s remit), which on the one hand I liked (I have found short guided rides I’ve done during cycling events a little slow), but on the other hand on an achy Saturday morning I could have done with being more leisurely. Especially up that final hill, which all these super-fit people went up like so many mountain goats, leaving me (and as a result the rear marshall) behind as if all these mornings pedalling up to Clifton had been in vain.

Still, I had plenty of energy left for the hour’s weeding that awaited us at Feed Bristol after a whistlestop tour of this great place, whose “aim is to support a range of people with different needs and abilities to access food growing while promoting health, well-being, out-door education and access to nature“. I love a bit of weeding – I wish I liked more such mindless manual tasks (I understand some people find housework therapeutic). I didn’t even mind the three brief showers much (largely I’m sure thanks to the waterproof jacket that’s been my only expensive individual bike-related purchase so far).

I ended up quite knackered, hungry and covered in mud from head to toe but happy and thinking of going back there to volunteer in exchange for free veg. Talking of volunteering, it was quite thought-provoking to hear about the way corporate away days are an essential earner for the project and regulars have had, more or less reluctantly, to work with bankers and the like, with both groups getting something new out of the experience.

We were told that the land we were on included a piece of the “Blue Finger“, some of the top 3% high quality agricultural soil in the country, with immense potential for food sustainability/self-sufficiency in Bristol, but that this was under threat from a proposed Park and Ride scheme (Metrobus) of contested worth. You can read more about this (and how to object should you want to) on the “Rethink M32 Park and Ride” blog and the Blue Finger Alliance‘s website.

The ride back was conveniently a lot easier, being mostly downhill and flat, and shorter as I peeled off at Eastville Park for a much needed lunch, hot cocoa and somewhat blissed-out lounge at home.

Great work by the Good Gym volunteers organising and running this ride like clockwork, allowing the likes of me to do something mildly adventurous with minimum risk. I’m still not sufficiently confident in my cheap bike or my cycling troubleshooting skills to risk a longer ride for now, especially given that any necessary rescue operation could be costly (until I’m working full-time again, leisure activities must be free or as near as dammit), but this is added motivation to keep going to Women’s Night and improving both.

Photo of Good Gym-ers scraping mud off their footwear

Good Gym-ers scraping sticky, clay-y mud off their footwear

Photo of hut in Feed Bristol Big Field

A charming hut in the Big Field, which you can hire for workshops etc

Photo of my reflection in Feed Bristol hut window

Slightly serial-killerish selfie (reflection in hut window)

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