Exploring new trails

It started well. I plugged my earphones in and rode out into a sunny afternoon, across Kingsditch then up the RUPP to Elmstone Hardwicke. I was riding like a lunatic – drum and bass tends to have that effect. After that I wasn’t really sure where I was going, but a series of bridleways and country lanes brought me out just outside Tewkesbury. Exploring new trails is ace!

Shortly thereafter I came to that bridleway. That bridleway was rubbish. It’s obviously used more by horses than anybody else, so it’s muddy, bumpy and churned up making it a real challenge to go anywhere. It’s one of those annoying trails where if you lose any momentum you end up having to pedal down the hill.

I get to the end and turned left onto a road, and noticed a twig stuck to the front tyre. It’s slapping the fork with every revolution of the wheel. Not a problem, I’ll stop to remove it.

Oh CRAPOLA! That’ll be a thorny twig stuck in the tyre then. So I take off my camelbak, open it up… DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! I’ve still not put my pump back in there. I carefully break off the excess bits of twig without removing the thorns from the tyre. Now it’s a race to get home before the tyre goes flat…

After a short while, I come to a junction with the main road. The sign tells me it’s eight miles back to Cheltenham. I’m fairly sure I’m going to be walking some of that. Now, I know this main road – it’s a nasty big dual carriageway and really not a nice place to be on a bike. There’s got to be a much better route back through Elmstone Hardwicke again. So I take a left and follow the country lanes. I get to a t-junction and I spot a bridleway going straight on – that seems about right to me, so I follow it. Alas, within half a mile I hit a dead end.

There’s a stile over there, but that can’t be right – it’s a bridleway isn’t it? Horses can’t climb over stiles. I clamber over and and follow the trail anyway – it turns out to be a footpath that goes right through someone’s back garden. Oops! I eventually find another bridleway that takes me over the M5 and in the right direction.

They’re really badly signposted around here – there’s several junctions in the track where I’m reduced to following horse and bike tracks in the vain hope of staying on the bridleway. Somehow I do and and up on familiar ground. I know how to get back from here – or at least I should. I’ve not approached the path from this direction before and ride straight past it the first time. It’s only about half a mile further up that I realised my mistake. I go to turn around and realise the tyre is really starting to get soft now. NOOO! It’s OK though, I only have to get down the RUPP and then back across Kingsditch. It’s not far now.

I’m pedalling like a complete loony to get back quickly but I can’t devitate far off a straight line because steering is really getting interesting now. This would be fine, except the trail is getting to the really boggy rutted bit now. I nearly lose the front all over the place and keep catching pedals on the sides of the ruts I’m inevitably getting stuck in. Ah, there’s the burnt out car – I’m not far from the end now then.

The tyre went completely flat about 50 yards from my front door. Winner!

8 Responses to “Exploring new trails”

1. Gabe da Silveira

Awesome story. After an entire season without a flat, I moved to New Mexico (from Minnesota) last month and am just learning about the local hazards. I haven’t been bitten by a goathead yet, but descending the Atalaya trail I got a pinch flat on sharp protruding rocks only to discover that my old vulcanizing fluid had evaporated. Pumping up my one spare tube I accidentally broke the pin off the valve, but I figured I’d make it to the bottom. After another half mile (still 2 miles from the bottom) I had an explosive blowout, later discovered to be unrelated to the valve issue. I’m seriously starting to think about thornproof tubes.

2. Olly

These are Nokian DH tubes – they’re suposed to be able to resist nuclear armageddon! ;-)

3. matt

I’ve now had 6 punctures in 13 rides. :(

4. Olly

Well this is the first I’ve had in a long time, so I can’t really complain.

5. Owen

Dude, it sounds like you discovered some of those elusive trails that we so accurately missed last time we went out. I shall have to get you to show them to me sometime soon!

6. Olly

I pulled five thorns out of that tyre this morning! FIVE THORNS! I don’t want to ride that path ever again ;-)

7. Simon

What happened to the days of inner tubes and plasters eh? If you will ride in these silly places, I would of got a taxi :-) they woulnd’t mind a muddy bike :-p

8. Olly

Inner tubes and plasters are all well and good as long as you remember your sodding pump :(