23 March 2009

I had a break from birding over the weekend and instead concentrated on the cycling. After work on Saturday morning I set about cleaning the bike and making sure everything was ready for a ride on Sunday. A couple of hours spent on the bike had it all cleaned, adjusted and lubricated. The old girl still scrubs up pretty well even after all these years.

Sunday was a dry, bright and, at times, reasonably sunny day but there was a bit of a breeze blowing. Not bad cycling weather but I would have liked it just a little less windy. The route for my ride was chosen as a way of (forgive the phrase) killing two birds with one stone - I got to do a ride of almost 25 miles and also went to visit my mum for Mother’s Day!

I set off from home at just after 9:00AM, took the direct cycle path route to Pride Park and then in to the river gardens in Derby. Here, I stopped for a short time to remove my winter gloves and change to short fingered summer gloves - it was a lot warmer than I thought once I got going.

The view as I changed gloves!

From the river gardens I continued on up the riverside path to Darley Fields before taking to the road and heading for Little Eaton. Much of the ride from the edge of Derby to the village of Little Eaton is on a cycle path so the traffic here isn’t too much of an issue and I was able to make reasonably good progress. Passing the Little Chef at the bottom of Abbey Hill and smelling bacon cooking did have me thinking of taking a break though!

Once in Little Eaton I had to take to the roads as the cycle track comes to an end. There are rumours of the disused coal train line being turned into a cycle trail here but that will be a while yet, if it happens at all. Taking the back road from Little Eaton to Coxbench will have added a little to the distance I rode but the road is much quieter and safer. I was able to enjoy the views, and bird song, without traffic racing past all the time.

The last part of the ride, from Coxbench up into Horsley Woodhouse, was the only section of the ride that tested me in any way - the road constantly climbs for around 1½ miles with a particularly steep section leading out of Horsley village. As a kid I remember regularly pushing my bike up this hill, yesterday I rode up it reasonably easily. Either bikes have improved or I’m a lot fitter now! The ride of just over 12 miles took me 50 minutes - not my best average speed for a ride but I did have to contend with a head wind for much of it.

After spending time with my mum, and re-fuelling with a Mars bar and a bottle of Lucozade, it was time to head back home again. I did an exact reverse of my route and with the aid of a tail wind and also the advantage of riding down hill through Horsley and Coxbench I managed to knock a full 6 minutes off my outbound time. I made it home in 44 minutes, averaging almost 17 miles an hour, a much more respectable speed.

Since the start of the year I’ve now covered 594 miles on the bike - less than 2000 miles till I reach my target for the year!

Even though I haven’t lifted my binoculars this past weekend I have managed to add one more species to my “10-Mile List” and also enjoyed a few other good sightings. On Saturday morning, whilst cycling to work, I came across 6 Sand Martins over the river Derwent near to Pride Park. These were the first I’d seen this year and become species number 107 on the “10-Mile List”.

Other birds of note included 4 Goosander, 4 Song Thrush and numerous Chiffchaff along the river path and also some superb views of 4 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk soaring directly overhead as I cycled through Little Eaton. Maybe they thought I was about to become their next meal?!

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