All entries for Tuesday 05 April 2005

April 05, 2005

Cycling… to Chesterton Windmill 05/04/05

The British Cycle Quest is 402 locations 6 in 67 regions, each with a question about the place you have to answer. You send off for "County Cards" containing the questions. Always keen to go new places on my bike I have a county card for Warwickshire and the West Midlands. One of the questions is about Chesterton Windmill, which is where I went today…

Coming up to three o' clock my revision takes a beating as my brain grinds to halt. Do I force myself to learn about the Qualitative Theory of Ordinary Differential Equations (every bit as much fun as it sounds) or go for a bike ride, hmmm. After giving this much careful consideration I'm on my bike and heading out of the university at approximately 3:01pm.

The route I planned was to go through Stoneleigh and towards Cubbington then out through the pretty but slightly unspectacular Warwickshire countryside, once you've seen one field you've seen them all.

Living as I do on the doorstep of the Peak District I'm always astonished by how far you can travel on flat land. After being on the bike about half an hour I stop to check the map and nearly fall down with shock at the distance covered, however I soon realise that the map I printed off multimap is 1:25,000 scale whereas I'm used to Ordnance Survey maps at 1:50,000. Slightly disappointed that I hadn't suddenly developed Jan Ulrich's legs, I set off again.

A common feature of cycling is getting hopelessly lost, especially the way I do it. Being lost on a bike isn't a sudden epiphony, it's a feeling that sneaks up on you gradually, for some reason you start to think, "hmmm, there should have been a junction round here somewhere" then you start to think "I can't remember there being a city when I planned this route." In extreme cases you end up with "SCOTLAND!!!???". Today's, er… excursion took me out towards Northamptonshire, luckily I didn't get that far as my map wouldn't have covered it. One bonus of this detour was that it took me past a nice canal lock, which is probably very pretty in the sunshine, but that was slightly lacking today so it looked kinda drab.

After figuring out why I wasn't fast approaching a windmill I set off in the correct, non-Northamptonshire direction. However I soon got lost again, but this was a thankfully small detour somewhere around Harbury. I was making good speed, but the damn wind kept blowing in my face, though this had the advantage of helping me find my bearings as if I kept straight into the wind I was going in the right direction, if only it were the other way round. Cursing about the wind (literally, I swear alot on my bike. It's where I use up alll my aggression, I hardly ever get angry otherwise) I come into sight of the windmill. Well at least the wind makes sense, I mean they wouldn't build a windmill if they didn't expect wind surely.

In order to get to the windmill I have to ride through a field. Which is okay because I'm on a mountain bike, but it's a deliberately crappy mountain bike. I bought it for £30 from someone over the road having a house clearance. The reason for riding such a lump of junk are three fold:
1. Last term my old bike was emasculated (ie. the wheels were stolen), if anyone wants these wheels, though I can't imagine they would, they can have 'em.
2. I don't care if it gets wet and rusty. and, perhaps insanely:
3. You have to work hard to get it anywhere, it's great for keeping in shape. Okay yeah I could ride a nicer bike that'd zip along, but where the hell is there to go round here?
Anyway I reallly start to appreciate the front suspension on my old bike as I jar along.

Eventually I make it to the windmill, to be honest it's a bit of a let down, I was hoping for something a little more Jonathan Creek, beggars can't be choosers I guess.

I pause to take a drink and to write down the answer to the question, take the picture, and plan to route back. I wanted to avoid riding through Leamington to miss the traffic, but after my earlier adventures I decide that traffic may well be the lesser of two evils, I did want to get home today afterall.

I set off in that direction, however stopping has made me realise a familiar pressing sensation so I stop to fertilise a hedge. The route towards Leamington takes me past Leamington F.C.'s football ground. It exists! It's rather unspectacular but I'm delighted to finally know where it is. Soon after this I ride past Mr Karting. Leamington's premier motorsprt venue. Well, I don't know that for a fact, but I can't see it not being true unless some rich kid in North Leam has the mother of all Scalectrix sets. I keep an eye out in case anyone from Warwick Motorsport is around. As a member of the said Sports Club I can safely say "Never get in a car with these people!", as such I'm a little concerned about being a victim of some, er… over-exuberant driving.

From here it's a quick blast into Leamington. Here I remember that cycling in traffic is actually quite fun. All those sudden bursts of accelaration, trying to fit into tiny gaps, actually going past car and not the other way round. Plus I get to see one of those awful Tory "Are you thinking what we're thinking" posters. I doubt it, unless they're also thinking they wouldn't slow down if a member of the shadow cabinet stepped out in front of them. Nevermind the fact I'd probably come off just as worse, it'd be worth it.

I ride up the parade, so if anyone was around there at about 5:30 and saw someone with a dorky looking fluorescent cover on their bag, "hello". I wish the town council would sort out that road surface it's horrible, I almost wish I was riding across a field again. From there it's plain sailing on a route I know well. For some reason home always seems much closer when you're on familiar roads. I get home just as the sun breaks through a little and gives us a lovely evening.


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