Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A proper ride (at last)

This afternoon I took off for what I think qualifies as my first proper ride in months.

I don't think of it as a proper ride because of the distance (which was only a little more than other recent outings). Nor because it was particularly strenuous (I was working quite hard at times, but I really ought to accept this as the norm, and stop going on about it).

It qualifies as a proper ride because I set off to explore some familiar places, and as with all the best outings, I ended up finding some which were unexpected.

One of my destinations was Warkworth - a pretty town, well known for its imposing castle, its Norman bridge and church and the views along the main street. I've been there many times, but I've only cycled through once. I've never explored away from the main sights, and main routes. This time I entered the town along the conventional route, but I left heading westwards.

Warkworth is almost completely surrounded by the River Coquet, and the road I chose crosses it via a ford. I chose this route partly because I enjoy riding through fords. Like riding through puddles, it appeals to my inner child. But the others that I've ridden through have only been small. This is more of a grown-up ford. It looked very wide - wide enough that I couldn't judge how deep it was in the middle. And it looked as though it was going to be slippery.

I had second thoughts, and considered using the footbridge. But then, surely the river must be relatively low at the moment. What's the worst that could happen? An hour's ride home, soaking wet, covered in mud didn't seem too awful a prospect. I asked myself: man or a mouse? or otter?

I decided to risk it.

I took it steady, and tried to stick to the tracks left by cars, because they seemed less slippery.

The first third was fine. After that the water was deep enough to be coming over my feet as I pedalled. I couldn't see any clear tracks to follow. The wheels were starting to slide about a bit.

An hour's ride home, soaking wet, covered in mud was beginning to look quite likely. But the worst didn't happen. I managed to stay upright, and I kept pedalling. With the exception of my feet, I had a dry ride home.

And although I've ridden past an imposing castle, a Norman bridge and church and I've again seen the lovely views along Warkworth main street, it's the experience of crossing the ford that I will remember.

Postscript - the ford was originally tagged "highway=ford" on OSM. That's in line with the recommended approach, and the way that I would have done it. Routing seems to work OK, but the ford itself wasn't rendering. So it looked as though there was a gap in the road on Mapnik and OCM. I know we shouldn't tag for the render, but because this ford is so long the gap was obvious (and misleading). I've changed the tagging to "highway=minor, ford=yes" with a node where it cross the centre of the river tagged "highway=ford, ford=yes". I'm hoping that this will provide more appropriate rendering, while maintaining a record of "what is on the ground". We will see, and if anyone has a better alternative the link is here.


townmouse said...

you need to get yourself some cycling wellies. I wouldn't tackle our ford if it was flowing (far too fast moving and potholed) but they're handy for going through flooded sections of the road. Short ones with wide legs are the best, and they double as cycling clips

gom1 said...

And apparently you can fill them with custard to stop them slapping against your legs.