A challenging cycle around the block

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Going off the beaten path was a key priority for today's cycle. As much as I enjoy cycling the rail trail, the 16km route is feeling a bit stale now. I want to shake things up a bit.

Shake turned out to be a wholly appropriate word for this afternoon's 20km cycle. The surface of the first gravel road I trundled along was so rough it shook my bike to the point that the chain slipped off the front cog! (Well, it might also have had something to do with me going up a very steep incline and changing gears too quickly. Not that it matters — it only took a few seconds to put it back on.)

I also found the gravel surface difficult to cycle upon because the fine white gravel lay in waves along the road. It was so thick in places that it was like cycling through sand. It was so loose and slippery my hybrid tyres could not get a proper purchase. I was reduced to cycling in the middle of the road, where local traffic had displaced the gravel, leaving a hard stable surface behind.

I never seem to have this problem in London!

No sooner was I off the gravel road, than I was confronted with the next challenge: cycling a couple of kilometres along the Bass Highway.

There was little or no road verge along this section, so with cars whizzing by at high speed, it didn't feel particularly safe. Most cars gave me plenty of room, but one or two did come a little too close for comfort.

It didn't help that most of the cycle along this stretch was uphill, so I was using all my physical energy keeping the pedals turning and all my mental energy trying not to imagine what it would be like to be knocked down by a speeding vehicle!

But once I'd turned onto a local B road the rest of my cycle was very pleasant. The only traffic I saw on this road was a car heading in the opposite direction.

The cycling was flat, and the road, about 5km of it, stretched into the distance. If the whole route had been like this it would have been boring, but by the time I'd got this far and survived the previous challenges I was relieved to just enjoy the peace, solitude — and safety.

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