December 5th - Without a functioning rail service, there was no alternative and I cycled home from Tyseley. The wind was strong, but it had died back considerably, and the rain - apart from a brief shower as I hit Park Hall - had cleared. I didn’t fancy the traffic up the main drag over Kingstanding with a side wind, so hit the canal all the way home. It got dark in Aston, and the front light - my trusty Hope R4 - was plenty good enough all the way. The going wasn’t fast, but it was steady, and much of the time I was sheltered from the wind.
Reality checks came at Tower Hill, where rocks had tumbled from the steep cutting embankment onto the towpath, and Park Hall, where a tree had similarly come to a sad end.
There was a cracking sunset, too, but I missed most of it, hidden behind the cityscape. The views over Hamstead were great though, and it made a change to see them at this time of day. I must head here for a sunset when I get chance.
I arrived home tired, but just pleased to be back, and safe. Many, many people had a far worse time with floods, the tidal surge and severe gales. My tribulations were nothing, and I did get in a decent ride, after all.
December 5th - It wasn’t a great day for train travel in the Midlands (or the rest of the country, for that matter). Signal failures led to horrid delays getting to work, and storm damage mainly caused by falling trees stopped lines to Walsall and Lichfield during the afternoon and evening, so I cycled home from Brum and gave the trains a miss completely.
I noted that Notwork Fail have this year put up a lush, artificial Christmas Tree in the ‘New’ New Street.
It’s irritatingly not straight, buy very apposite.
November 20th - Just the one picture today, as the commutes were horrid and wet, ad the images I took in the morning were spoiled by rain on the lens. I grabbed this as I left the station at Walsall in the early evening. The rain had stopped, but everything was wet and cold. The traffic seemed tetchy and aggressive tonight, too, but nothing really matches the glisten of a wet urban night scene. There wasn’t much business for the taxis tonight, but it’s nice to see Station Street undergoing a bit of a revival.
Even on a cold wet Wednesday in Walsall, there’s beauty to be had.
November 11th - I think the rain made this, in a funny kind of way. When I came past the war memorial in Darlaston, it was raining quite heavily, but the statue, wreaths and tributes positively glowed in the murk. It looks like Darlaston did it’s fallen proud. So touching, and beautiful, it was a great sight on a wet, grey monday morning.
A few minutes later in the town, I saw the regular street sweeper cheerfully litter picking in the rain. Just as I passed, a lady from a local shop shouted to him, and came out with a cup of tea for him, and praised him for his hard work.
November 11th - The weather is stuck in repeat. A lousy, wet and heart-in-mouth commute to Darlaston, and I hopped onto the canal as soon as I could. The roads were mad today, really, truly awful.
The rain varied between a light drizzle and very heavy, and was again glad of good waterproofs. Twice I stopped for shelter under bridges. The autumn colour is gorgeous, but I’d love to see a bit more of yesterday’s sun rather than this endless rain we seem to be cursed with tis last couple of weeks.
From November 6th - Walsall new ring road, Green Lane Junction about 5:10pm, Wednesday 6th November 2013. I didn’t feel it safe to stop as the guy behind was stuck to me like a wet T-shirt. This is far from unique driver behaviour here - get in the wrong lane trying to queue jump, then bugger everyone else trying to sort it out.
More of this run later.
Best viewed large by clicking on the youtube logo, and click on the wee gear symbol and select 1080 for best video quality.
November 6th - An absolutely lousy commuting day. It was raining for the entirety of journeys both to and from Darlaston, and the traffic - still stuck in autumn muppet mode - didn’t make it easier. There were lights in the darkness, though; at Green Lane, Shelfield, I stopped to take a phone call and felt someone was watching me - so beware eavesdropping moggies when out and about. The canal at Bentley Bridge still looked green, depute the murk. On the way home, the roads glistened and shone in the spray-sweep of passing traffic.
It’s not shaped up to be a great bike commuting week, if I’m honest… at least the forecast for tomorrow is better.
November 2nd - I left for Lichfield at a quarter to four, and was there by five. The wind today was crafted on Satan’s back step, and blew me there at a wonderful speed. Sadly, it took me forty minutes to get back.
The headwind on my return, loaded with the occasional burst of rain for good measure, was evil. I had my suffer face on all the way back. Winter is truly here now. I wondered how all those bonfires and fireworks parties would go in such blustery conditions.
I stopped for a breather on the M6 Toll bridge at Summerhill, and decided to have a play with the long exposure setting on the camera. I’ve found this one has a 15 and 30 second setting, so popped it on the handrail and had a go.
November 1st - returning to Brownhills from work, I had to get some errands run. It was dark, and very wet, but in the night, the town glistened. Brownhills High Street, depressed and depressing as it can be, looks beautiful and almost busy in these conditions. Even the deserted hinterland of a Ravens Court possessed an unusual air.
It’s sore abused, but Brownhills is my home, and I still love it as much as I ever did. Even in the rain of the coming winter.
October 23rd - Strategic mistake. I left Leicester early, and hopped on the first train out of Birmingham I could. I ended up cycling from Shenstone against a fearsome, grinding headwind. Although the lanes are taking on the beauty of autumn at last, this was a hard ride and I didn’t really appreciate the dry, sunny ride at the time.
So far, this has been a week of very grim commuting.
October 21st - Time for a techy bit. Disc brakes are my favourite kind of bicycle brake - resilient, reliable and good in the wet, they need care if they’re to maintain performance. The brakes on the current commuting bike are hydraulic, and very powerful; they eat brake pads, especially in wet weather. In the wet, the grit from roadwash and grindings from the pads and disc combine to make an abrasive paste that makes the brakes noisy in use and causes wear to all braking surfaces. After a wet ride, wherever possible, I flush the discs in clean water to clear any residue off. If this is ignored, larger particles become embedded in the pads and score the disc surface, impeding performance and causing high-pitched noise.
I’ve also noticed with these appreciable wear on the discs. These were changed 3,000 miles ago and I can feel now feel quite a step between the surface and unworn part of the disc.
If your bike has disc brakes, look after them, and they’ll be there when you need them. It’s especially important in weather like this.
October 21st - It’s going to be a hard week. The Monday morning commute saw me heading to Birmingham in a rainstorm. Visibility was bad, and I abandoned the Chester Road and headed for Shenstone, as I didn’t feel comfortable in the spray and slime of the main road. When I got to Shenstone, I realised just how heavily it was raining. It rained too, on my way home; another fraught journey where I rediscovered the lack of traction on wet road markings and the fact that my jacket waterproofing seems to be failing.
The weather forecast doesn’t seem to be predicting much of an improvement. Oh well, at least it’s warm…
October 20th - I went out in the rain. It was warm, but periodically very heavy. I headed for Chasewater, then to Hopwas Hays Wood to catch the autumn. As I crossed the old ranges, it began to rain quite heavily and my journey through the yellowing woodland was marked by the music created by water rattling off leaves. The track was muddy, and the downhills very fast; I’m still not used to the sudden drop after the gate.
This was a blast, but the mud and lack of grip made it quite challenging.
I have no idea where the dog that appears just before I enter the wood came from…
October 20th - There’s some really great fungi growing at the moment on Chasewater Dam, where the trees were removed. I have no idea what they are, and initially, they looked like piles of horse manure. It was only when I got closer I realised what they were. it has just stopped raining, and they glistened wonderfully.
October 14th - I hopped on to the canal on my way back, and as the sky cleared, dusk fell. It was beautiful, in a quite understated way. I love the canal overflow at Clayhanger Bridge. I adore watching the flow of the water; powerful, noisy, yet soothing. Flowing strongly after a weekend of rain, I listened to it for ages. When you’ve been feeling under it for a while, simple things like listening to the rush whilst watching a decent sunset form can really pick you up.
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over two years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.