23 June 2011

Bicycle obstacle course

What do you do if biking with transport geographers renders you cripple for weeks? Well that’s easy. Do it again!

Of the two transport geographers in question Matthias had, evidently, returned to Germany, but Jon was up for a bike ride. I figured we should not return to the good old trail to Clearbrook, but instead intrepidly venture further, to the part of the old railroad where I’d been running with Neil. And so we did!

The railroad is easy to trace on satellite images! The red arrow indicates the parking lot that was our start- and finish point. And from there you can see the track snake its way to Princetown, with its decorative circular prison, which features prominently in the Hound of the Baskervilles...

To my delight, Jon came to my office in full suit (cufflinks! matching shoes!) to inform me he was ready to go, so a few minutes later we were on our way to my place. When Jon walked in he betrayed his character by immediately noticing a bottle of Leffe Blond and a book about steam railways, and not at all noticing a digital camera grotesquely held in 6-inch-long joining bolts (picture in this blog post, though the sheer length of the bolts cannot be seen there). The book kept him busy while I changed, and then we were good for strapping the bicycles to my car. My clumsiness in handling the bicycle rack was only surpassed by Jon’s, but we got there, and off we were.

It was yet again a beautiful day with dramatic skies! Happily we slithered over the muddy, untarmacced trail, and were not even discouraged by the path soon turning into a 10 cm wide mud track over bumpy grassland, barricaded by one fence after the other. Some of the fences couldn’t even be opened, and had to be climbed, bicycle and all. Jon innovatively proved that a hammer-throwing technique also works with bicycles.

Soon the track widened again to full railroad width, and a few miles into the route the fences disappeared, and the biking became less interrupted, though from time to time still encumbered by the rocky bumpiness of the track. But the scenery was marvellous!


Upon reaching Princetown we were faced with the gruelling choice between promptly returning, or making a modest detour to the Plume of Feathers for a pint of Three Hares. To cut the story short: the beer was splendid, and revitalised we accepted the way back. This was, given the gradient of the track, the quick leg of the journey, and after a mere 40 minutes we were back at the car. Being cripple and not allowed to run isn’t bad if you can bike instead! Especially under such circumstances. And providing you do the getting onto and off the bike in a somersault-avoiding way...

The slightly barren ribbon the big stick is lying on is actually the path...

ps we may have thus earned ourselves an Eisenbahnradfahrärmeltätigkeitsabzeichen!

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