A tale of two rides

It’s Spring!  Everyone says so and the evidence was all there when I went for the first of a couple of really peachy longish bikes rides about ten days ago.

There were lots of tweety birds in the lanes, small wrinkly-fresh lambs cwtching up close to their mums in the meadows on top of Woolridge and a woman ostensibly taking two turkeys for a walk.

She was approaching me pushing a child in a buggy with two black and red turkeys strolling alongside.

I couldn’t help grinning.

Yes, they’re still here,” she smiled back anticipating the obvious comment. The turkeys had the good grace to shift over for me to pass. They fanned their tails and gobbled sociably.

It made me wonder if perhaps we’re missing the whole point with turkeys. They are probably far more valuable and long-lasting as friends of the family than for just the one meal.

A turkey is good with children  – not just with stuffing”

Maybe not.

Turkey. Not just for Christmas but for hiking and general outdoor pursuits!

 Discounted membership rates for turkeys in the Ramblers Association.”

“You’re never alone with a turkey”

Also, gives you more options in the event of an unexpected nuclear winter, being stranded miles from the nearest Tescos or needing some feathery hat enhancements.


Apart from the turkeys there were alarmingly low-flying buzzards, gaudy pheasants running all panicky along the hedgerows and a couple of confused partridges… but best of all there was sunshine.

Even the homeward grind along a busy road against the wind was ameliorated by the brightness of the countryside. It’s in the Spring and returning from a foreign holiday somewhere hot that you notice that this pleasant land is so very, blindingly green!

I didn’t see any other cyclists at all. Just me out riding for fun.

Yesterday in the snowy Forest of Dean, it was still Spring and I was still on my tod – apart from one cyclist in the far distance – but it was a very different kind of ride.

The sun dazzled intermittently, lighting up the fine tracery of snow lying on millions of branches, casting lovely long shadows across the trails.

I’d been suffering off-road withdrawal so yesterday’s ride only involved crossing one road and there was no-one about so I just followed my nose and took the paths less travelled.

A ride in the Forest is usually pretty quiet as long as the bike is nicely lubed – silence itself pedalling over a carpet of larch needles – but yesterday there was a constant ‘ssshhhhh’ of snow, loud crunchy-crackling of tyres on broken ice or the wet-splatting of tyres through slick liquid mud.

Sheltered from the prevailing icy winds it didn’t feel that cold – until the cycling shorts under the Ron Hills got saturated with mud and started to freeze.

Mud comes in many textures. Firm is nice, claggy sticks like glue, soft is ok although you’re going to ruin shoes.

Yesterday’s mud was inconveniently gloopy. It splashed up over my gloves on the handlebars, all over my specs and it must have been making a real effort because a couple of good-sized blobs made it into my eyes, making it impossible to see properly until I’d stopped and wiped them with a gloved finger.

Being on my tod, I didn’t chance anything risky. The mobile phone reception in the Forest is non-existent in places and I wouldn’t want to be stuck on the ground with injuries so painful that I faint off every time I try to stand up (2 yrs ago, pulled ligaments. Surprisingly disabling).

So it was all very pleasant (excepting the frozen ass) and the downhill blats were soo, so cold that I felt like my earlobes had turned to ice and would snap off and smash into a million sparkly pieces at any minute.

The thigh muscles were fizzing nicely – riding through snow is more exercise than you’d imagine so the overall effect was good.

But I have to own up here and make one big admission: the real, groany, “Oh-my-God-that’s-fantastic” thing about the ride was the hot shower afterwards.





Yeah, right.

About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Countryside, Current Affairs, Cycling, Dogs, Watery things and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A tale of two rides

  1. We used to have a family who walked their pet goats on leads down our street but Turkeys?!?

  2. janh1 says:

    I know. It was in the morning and I swear I hadn’t touched a drop!! 🙂

    Although I did do a double-take in a bar in France when three goats on leads walked past the window…

    We just emerged from a restaurant one night after a *very* good evening and I was startled by a big brown creature across the road. I remember saying out loud “Good god. Look at that. It’s a bear!!!”

    On that occasion, I was wrong. Apparently, it was a dog.

  3. Bob Fitz-Gerald says:

    Wow Jan, your on fire this week, 2 blog entries and both as entertaining as each other, lovely photo’s too, you do live in a beautiful area. Next time I visit my south wales buddy we will have to venture over to the Forest and check it out. I like the idea thats its quiet, not a big fan of areas that are over populated with loud downhillers whooping over jumps. The forest sounds like my kind of place.

    • janh1 says:

      I have that luxury resource, Bob “time”! Yes do come and enjoy the Forest. Loads of scope, although there are whooping boy-racer downhillers on ridiculously over-engineered bikes that couldn’t do cross-country for toffee. Just avoid the area just north of SallowVallets. They’ll give you all the info advice at the Pedalaway Centre. Nice people and they changed a tyre for me for free! 🙂

  4. Jane Parry says:

    Crazy bike lady!!! I have been dicing with certain death taking Rudy and Rio up the hill this week!!! Ridiculously cold and not another soul in sight!!! Lovely pics btw xx

  5. janh1 says:

    Ello my baaabbs! 🙂 I thought of you when I saw a BBC Bristol TV journo reporting from a snowy hollow on top of Cleeve Hill last night. Very “Drop the Dead Donkey.” I could imagine him finding the only remaining snow while the rest was green..!!

    I knew it wasn’t the deepest hollow – the one we found and the dogs love – because there’s brambles and rubbish in the bottom of that one!

    We’re both hardy but I do recognise that you are well-ard while I am only medium these days 😀

  6. IsobelandCat says:

    Great contrasts and two good rides, though the first sounds more fun to me! Nice and bright today, and though still cold, it makes such a difference from the cold grey of the last few days. A few years back my cousin and I visited a farm where there was a tame turkey. She had been raised for Christmas but reprieved. She was a delight, a really big character, very friendly, very curious. Who’d have thought it? Must get my bike oiled. It is very squeaky.

  7. Sounds like a great ride and an even better shower, Jan. I wonder how they keep the dogs ut of the water?

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