45 Minute Escape

Croxteth Country Park is my favourite destination for a quick escape

A few days ago I had one of those sublime, snatched-from-nowhere rides. I had an hour to spare before the children returned from school and college and the evening ritual of food, TV, baths and chores began. Time for a ride.

The day had been cold (1 degree Celsius) and magically dry and clear so I head out towards Croxteth Country Park to see how the woodland trails were. I had a hunch that the season and the weather conditions would work some magic. And I was right.

My favourite local trails are usually difficult to ride for most of the year. In the summer, they’re usually overgrown with brambles, nettles and suchlike. During the autumn and winter, they’re usually too muddy to ride without having to clean the bike for an hour after every ride (which sort of defeats the purpose of a quick ride).

However, today was perfect. The ground in most parts was frozen solid and the vegetation had died back for the winter. So wrapped up in three layers and thick gloves, I swept around the trails as if it were a dry dusty summer’s day, only taking care for glassy areas of sheet ice. It’s been a year since I rode some of these paths, but it’s amazing how their every root, dip, rise and sketchy section gets imprinted in the memory.

Late afternoon, winter sun, not a soul about.

I came home refreshed and later on, read Chris ‘Pondero’ Johnson’s wonderfully inspiring piece on the Micro Tour – a chance to snatch some of the pleasures of touring in just a few hours (like an S240 but without the sleepover!). I think next time I escape, with a little more time to spare, I’ll pack the coffee flask (or maybe the Esbit stove and Billy-can) and a snack, find a stump and brew up.

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4 thoughts on “45 Minute Escape

  1. Ahh! Micro-tours, micro-adventures, S240; we are so adroit as adults at making ‘mucking about on the bike’ sound grown-up! Did any of us ever pack the thermos and tent and pootle out overnight before it was newly defined for us. Don’t get me wrong. I love the whole idea. It just tickles my fancy that we can even be rather serious about fun. A stop off for a bit of tucker and a coffee would make the ride perfect. Isn’t it lovely when you grab a few minutes for the sheer pleasure of being outside with the bike?

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      You make a good point BB. It seems that we’re in such a mess that we need our free-form recreational time ‘branded’ in some way! “I’m really craving an S24O!” “Oh really? Why don’t you just go out for an overnight camp somewhere instead.”

      Seriously though, as a society, we’re so used to having our leisure time spliced, diced and commidified that it’s useful to create shorthand like ‘S240’ or ‘MicroTour(tm)’ to describe activities which are fun, wholesome and natural. A lot of my cycling ‘friends’ are too tied to average speed and heart-rate zones to even contemplate stopping for a brew. An energy gel *rolls eyes* and a slug of Gatorade seems all they’ve got time for!

  2. Croxtech Country Park seems like a great destination for a micro-tour.

    I’m with BB, and must laugh at myself. I might not have realized I could ride a bike for fun (like a kid again), without someone defining it anew. Pathetic, huh?

  3. It sounds like a great place to ride. You are right about how a trail gets imprinted into memory. On a recent ride I was reminded that this can actually be problematic, if something changes. One section of trail had eroded noticeably since the last time I had ridden there, and I thought I knew the trail well, and was careless in that section and wiped out. No harm to bike or rider, but I did get a humbling reminder to pay attention!

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