"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own" Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy Month of Cycling - June 2017
Our annual challenge to clock up miles as a club always falls in June - every member of the Sri Chinmoy centre can take part even if they only ride the occasional mile to the shops, so we see the likes of Sashko, Prabata, Tejvan & Vilas with their monster mileages and at the other end of the scale we had Sudhira and Kokila here in Bristol heading out on their only long rides of the year. I managed the approx 110k of La'al Lakeland Audax as my longest ride and I was happy to have the chance to take in a relaxed ride to the Severn Bridge Peace Plaque with Kokila as my weekend ride around 3 weeks later.
Things didn't start well when I pumped Kokila's hybrid tyre up to a decent pressure only to hear it hiss and deflate - we fixed the puncture and got ourselves ready again to head out only to hear it go a second time. This meant a ride up to Cycle Surgery for a couple of tubes - one went in and the other was packed as a spare and finally we got out of the door (always the hardest few metres).
The summer of 2017 will live long in the memory as one of the best - May and June have been reminiscent of 1976 which I still remember vividly for its drought and dried up rivers. We hadn't got to that stage, but it was scorchio again on the day of the ride as it had been for quite a few weeks. We decided to avoid the A38 as much as we could which meant a long detour through Bradley Stoke, but that got us on to very quiet roads and cycleways which was a great way to start the ride. It seemed to take a long time to reach Aztec West (we'd have been there in 20 mins or less on the A road) but once there we only had to suffer the A road for a couple of K before we peeled off onto the Almondsbury Road, testing our brakes on the descent of Sundays Hill. This road through Almondsbury and on to Tockington is lovely, especially on a glorious summer day. I went ahead and enjoyed the sensation of riding at an easy pace & just soaking up the view and the sounds, all the sensations of riding that I sometimes miss if I'm too focussed on distance or speed.
At Tockington Green we stopped for a quick rest and realised we had lost something - Kokila's meditation picture (a "transcendental"), attached to her handlebars on a watch mount, had disappeared. Rather than retrace the entire route we decided to press on to the plaue at the Bridge and look on the way back - it was a shame on such a lovely day to lose something so precious but our goal was the bridge so we rode on.
Our usual meditation at the bridge was followed by the photo above being taken by another rider who had also stopped for a rest at the viewpoint - then as we were about to set off to the food stop (Old Down Country Park) the tyre hissed again and we clearly had another flat. I searched everywhere on Kokila's tyre for a thorn or shard of glass but there was nothing. I looked around the rim and soon found the culprit - where the two halves of the wheel were bonded together there was a sharp edge on the aluminium caused by a slight deformation of the wheel - I tried knocking it into shape with a spanner but it was clear I would damage the wheel so I pulled out the glasspaper from a puncture repair kit and sanded it down. Success!
The problem then turned out to be the schrader pump I had packed in case we had to inflate Kokila's tyre. Despite about 15 mins of effort we could only get it to partially inflate the tube - too soft to ride any distance. We were debating whether or not I should ride home and get the car while Kokila waited in Costa but then I remembered the obvious - the garage would have an airline with a schrader valve. Now, inflating your bike tyres on a high pressure airline is always verboten and tends to result in garage cashiers running out and having a major freakout at you in the forecourt, but luckily the airline was out of view this time. Equally luckily, we had a single, solitary pound coin. I popped it in and after some faffing managed to get 55 PSI into the tyre so we were good to go.
The section to Old Down had a testing hill and the best scenery of the day - it was like a road through the english summer itself - hardly any traffic and plenty of birdsong to accompany our uphill drags. The country park came at the right time - Kokila, used to doing a couple of km on the bike to work at most, had by now clocked up more than 25k. Tea and cakes, plus some nakd bars, did the business. Soon we were back out of the park and retracing our outbound route from Tockington Green back towards Almondsbury. We had our eyes peeled for the lost transcendental - Kokila expected it to be on a downhill with rough road surface, the most likely place for a bike mount to come loose - and I had a strong feeling it would be in the tunnel under the railway, where I remembered seeing some rough patches on the way out. As we entered the tunnel I spotted a dark object on the pavement and homed in on it - yes, the bike mount! As I picked it up I realised the tiny laminated photo had come off it and could be anywhere. I looked downwind and picked my way along the pavement to the grass verge just outside the tunnel - a tiny white object - yes! We picked up our treasured picture and stowed it safely away. Amazing that we had found something only about 2cm high and weighing a fraction of a gram, on a route of around 10k!
That made it the perfect day - we stormed along the A38 on the way back and that made the whole ride a respectable 40k.
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