Bits and Pieces

Did you ever have one of those days when your best laid plans went completely awry? Well that was my day and it hasn’t got much better either.

My intention was to have a day off the bike and do some housework! Yes that horrible but necessary evil that we must all confront from time to time. However, after the school run, dog walk and basic tom foolery…I really could not face the moo and bucket, the feather duster and the mountain of ironing…so I jumped on the bike to go ride some trails. Not a bad alternative I thought!

I have a bank of yet unridden routes in my gps so I decided to tackle one that was not too far away but I could get a lot out of.

I have started to focus my riding back onto the official byways again in readiness for the winter rides. There are many routes that will shut down in the winter and others that will become almost impassable so I have a mix of ‘get them in now’ and some ‘let’s see if they’ll be good for winter rides.

So I made a quick plan and headed to the start point, but no sooner had I started that I found I was being blocked at various stages. I was constantly having to reroute because of closed byways or trail entrances that had grown over or were now routing through private lands.

It was one of those rides that was a bit stop-start and there wasn’t much of a flow to it. Of course there were stretches that I got some good riding on and was able to film too, but there were so many that I failed to ride…and it was frustrating but not unexpected.

I have a love-hate relationship with byways I suppose! They can be fantastic to ride…it a real pig. They can be wide and should accommodate any vehicle or can narrow and resemble more like an overgrown footpath too.

They can be flat, hard and compacted or a rutted mess that is just waiting to trip you up at any given opportunity.

However my displeasure with them has nothing to do with their makeup but rather that the network of byways is all bits and pieces or non existent at all. Some areas are better than others but there are few trails that you could ride for hours and never hit any tarmac…much the pity!

We know that in the UK, the byways system is basically old routes and trails that have remained but there have been so many that have changed status or have disappeared that it sometimes is difficult to have any kind of clean run on them too.

You can ride for a while, then are forced to stop or turn back. Byways just end in the middle of a field or come to a dead end. They can be well taken care of or totally neglected…there is no rhyme nor reason to them anymore.

On the other hand they can be a great challenge and the trick is to create a route that includes as many byways as possible. So this is where the planning stage can actually be quite fun. You end up zig zagging across the countryside in search of more dirt and get annoyed when you’re forced to rejoin the rat race.

It would be great to have access to trails all over, just as in other parts of the world, but alas we have our system which can be a bugger to ride, especially in the winter after the 4×4 Greenlaners have had their fun and left humongous ruts in your path.

Eventually I made it to the end of the route and headed back home. I felt that the ride was adequate but not totally fulfilling. Unfortunately this sometimes happens on a days ride. The plan goes to rat shit and you end up doing bits and pieces just to make it work.

I aim to have a better ride tomorrow…on more byways…for my sins.

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