November 5th - Today was April again. Chilly, a morning punctuated by sharp showers, but lit up by remarkable periods of sunshine. I headed to Shenstone for no other reason than the countryside was gorgeous, and I could spare the extra time. The rainbow was wonderful.
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 3rd - I set out for work a little early on a murky, misty, wet autumn morning, and realised as I sped down the Chester Road that it was oddly photogenic. I decided to take a diversion and spun up to Shenstone, and grabbed some pictures as the season began to turn the leaves.
It worked rather well, I thought. It’s unseasonably warm right now, but I’ve got the feeling we’re on the verge of some really dramatic colours. I think this one could be worth keeping an eye on…
August 17th - A spin through a damp Brownhills wasn’t feeling terribly picturesque, but as I sped down the cycle route that follows the old railway line from the canal to Engine Lane, I noticed how green and lush the vegetation was, how perfect the track, the light.
July 31st - The promised rains came, but during my commutes, they were patchy and drizzly. It was an odd day; I lost something in the morning, and found it in the afternoon on the station platform, still where I dropped it. I sweated in waterproofs. I saw the aftermath of quite a serious road accident. Sometimes, you’re glad to get home in one piece.
The rain was nice; refreshing, warm, not driven by the wind, just gentle, cleansing. I caught the waterlogged backlanes of Stonnall, and looked for the raindrops on willow herb and brambles.
June 28th - A wonderful spin out in warm rain to Chasewater, then back to Stonnall. Two firsts for the summer in the same ride - first marsh orchid, opposite The Chemical, on the Canal towpath, and the first foxgloves have suddenly bolted into bloom. The raindrops glistened on them like jewels.
June 20th - Out for a beer in Walsall with some very good pals, I found myself coming home in heavy, sweet, warm rain. The bike was fast and the roads slick, and I must confess I enjoyed the ride hugely. It was a great sensory experience - the dark, the sound, the smell of wet greenery, the sweep of passing traffic, the taste of fresh, clean rain on my tongue. Green Lane in Walsall Wood remains the only place I feel uneasy after dark, but the deer and badger I startled here were worth the journey alone, but also endearing were the frogs and snails, out enjoying the downpour on the pub patio as I unlocked my bike.
June 12th - An awful commute from a weather point of view. The wind was dreadful in the morning, and the rain caught me on my return. I only took photos in Tyseley, in a rainstorm. Everything was wet; the station, the commuters, the trains. I felt miserable, and didn’t enjoy the journey at all - yet strangely, the Tyseley photos have an odd, lonely kind of charm.
May 29th - I had expected to get very wet on my return home. As it happened, it was merely a light drizzle, in the gap between downpours, but there was a significant headwind, and the going was grim. Cowparsley and hawthorn buds line the verges and hedgerows, and the cheesy scent of rapeseed hangs heavy. But there’s little sun about, and the lanes look grey and dull. Even the rabbit that darted in front of me, causing me to brake sharply was soaking wet.
may 28th - After a dreadful day of travelling - 7 hours of commuting just to get to Telford and back - I came home from a day unusually not on my bike. Hopping out as dusk fell, I shot up the Parade to Chasewater, then back along the canal. After a very wet, miserable day the air had begun to clear, and the rain ceased. The sunset wasn’t great, but after the murk, the crack in the clouds seemed heaven-scent. The Parade looked great with the fresh foliage, but I think we could do with some sun now. I need to feel more of the summer warmth.
March 21st - I returned from Walsall in the beginnings of a storm of wet, heavy-flaked snow. It soaked through my jeans, and made me cold, wet and miserable, a mood not helped by the utterly relentless and unforgiving easterly headwind.
Walsall Wood church looked good in the cold night, and the lights of the new Co-op store on Streets Corner - only opened that morning - were cheering.
March 8th - There’s not much, photographically, you can do with a day like this, except record it as it was. For the second day running, it was wet and foggy. The traffic was still acting strange, and I was glad to get home. It’s not really cold, and the cycling was surprisingly good due to the still conditions - but the flat, grey outlook, devoid of decent light, is relentless.
Please, spring, come back! What on earth did I do to scare you off?
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.