Yep, it’s muddy again, and I’m sick of spending more time cleaning the bike than riding it. What’s more, family commitments and an environmental conscience mean day trips to trail centres are a no-no. I need a more local solution.
I’ve thought in the past of getting a road bike, but armchair Tour de France watching has always appealed to me more than trying to emulate it.
Thankfully, whilst out on a ride at the weekend, we happened to traverse the canal and suddenly a very local solution dawned on me – the canal tow path, of course!
Ok, so they’re a bit flat, but they’re generally as well surfaced and drained as trail centre paths, and, what’s more, they’re more sustainable considering most have been there for a century or more.
Their flatness can even be an advantage - you can get a real steady heat on, really burn some energy pushing the big cogs. Hell, you could even get a low maintenance singlespeeder for tow path jaunts, adding to the sustainability factor.
Ok, so canals aren’t everywhere, but there are literally hundreds of miles of them within easy reach of loads of people. In addition, our canals and canal sides are much improved from how I remember them from my youth - less derelict buildings, less semi-submerged shopping trolleys, and thankfully less used condoms and broken glass.
Sure, there are downsides - you will have to share the narrow tow paths with others, especially families, who won't take too kindly to being forced into the canal as you approach silently at speed with little warning. Equally there are the oblivious walkers who step out in front of you without looking, forcing you instead into the canal! Then there's the dreaded dog poo that unfortunatley sometimes still permeates our tow paths.
But, the aforementioned families and walkers can be avoided if you set out early or late enough, and the dog poo helps hone the bunny hopping skills…