Destination: The Grove Lock Pub, The Grove Lock (as in, the canal lock), Grove, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 0QU
Date: Sunday, 9 November October 2014
Hot drink of choice: Cappuccino
Total mileage: 42.8kmBicycle: Riley the Enigma
This was an intermediate level ride hosted by the Luton and Dunstable Cycling Forum, led by Adam. We gathered in Grove House Gardens, our usual meeting place for Dunstable-based rides. We had an all-time high with a turnout of 23!
Our route was an out and back to the Grove Lock pub. We enjoyed our beverages (beer, in the case of most people!) from tables alongside the Grand Union Canal.
The pub is not bike-friendly in terms of providing bicycle-specific parking but, like most English country pubs, no objection is made to bringing bikes into the outdoor seating area (known as the "beer garden") provided they don't create a hazard or a nuisance.
While Adam tended to mysterious flat tyres on at least two different bicycles, I ordered a cappuccino for myself and a Diet Coke for him (as he doesn't drink hot drinks of any kind, ever). I then remembered that the pub serves rather tasty pork scratchings, so I got two portions of those as well. And then as I relaxed in the sun, Adam's Diet Coke began to look dangerously appealing, so I ordered a small glass of that for myself as well.
After refreshments, we arranged ourselves into a semi-circle for the obligatory Facebook group photo.
On our way back along the towpath, we were overtaken by a canal boat in olde-tyme commercial livery. I felt transported back to Victorian times!
Quite a few kayakers were out on the canal today, as well.
The descending afternoon sun cast ever-lengthening shadows over the park. (The yellow dots amongst the line of trees in the distance are all cyclists!)
Our route did involve a couple of miles on a "main road".
Motorists for the most part gave us plenty of space. I was a bit bullish about taking the lane, to buffer the young chap cycling in front of me.
One of our frequent re-grouping stops was at the bottom of the Sewell Greenway, built along a disused railway line.
At the bottom of the Sewell Greenway is the old railway station, beautifully converted into a private home. In fact, the chap living here is a Sustrans volunteer and ranger who helps look after this part of National Cycling Network Route 6.
At the top of the Sewell Greenway (a long gentle upgrade through a hillside cutting), a couple of other cyclists caught up with our group.
We only turned to look at them because we could hear the distinct sound of... a motor!
Yes, indeed, there was a young chap with a small girl, on what appeared to be a child-size quad-bike.
They were both heavily spattered with mud and looking a little war-weary.
Motorised vehicles of all kinds are prohibited from NCN routes and the local police make house calls to 'educate' offenders. Unfortunately there is little that would identify these two... once they've had a bath!
Back at Grove House Gardens, I asked Jane if I could have a closer look at her bike.
This is a Trek 1200 Alpha Series. It struck me as unusual for having a frame made of aero-shaped aluminium tubing, yet sporting a quill stem. I've not been able to pin down what year this bike may be, as the 1200 came in a variety of 'editions' over many years. The groupset is Tiagra 9-speed with a compact double chainset. Jane bought the bike at a car boot sale and was told by a bike shop afterward that the bike was worth £800-900. If the bike is in fact quite new (with original groupset but funky stem), then that could be true though it seems a rather high estimate for a production alloy-framed bicycle. If on the other hand the bike dates back to the mid-to-late 1980s and has had its groupset updated since then, well.... who's to say? It might then be something of a curiosity with some rarity value, sitting on the cusp between the classic era of steel road bikes with threaded headsets and the dawn of the Age of Aluminium.
All in all, it was a lovely ride on a lovely day with bonus weather! The forecast had been for dull and overcast with a high of about 7 Celsius. Instead, it was bright and sunny. I don't know what the temperature was but the sun was pumping out palpable warmth as we basked beside the canal.