Saturday, 22 October 2011

Where can you cycle to in an afternoon?

It has been another lovely autumn day today. I thought I would set off after lunch and see how far I could get along the coast. The plan was to head north until 3pm, then turn round and head back again.

It turns out that I can reach Chinon in the Loire Valley. Or, as it is known around here, "Bamburgh".

I claim Chinon, on the basis that The Lion in Winter is set in Chinon, and they are using a picture of Bamburgh Castle on the poster for the current production at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. It's perfectly recognisable, under Robert Lindsay's beard, though it seems to be back-to-front. Since Chinon has a medieval castle of its own it's a slightly odd choice.

My route crossed the East Coast main line several times, and as I rode towards one of the level crossings the barriers were closed. As I got closer I watched the train pass, then as I approached the barrier it opened to let me through with perfect timing. It was a magical moment and from then on I seemed to be riding more easily. I built up speed, and felt I was flying along with little effort.

Once I reached my destination I realised why it had got so easy. Sadly it was nothing to do with my performance at all. A tail wind had been building up, and it was pushing me along as I headed north. On the return journey I was riding into the wind, and found it more heavy going.

However, the wind aside, it was a good clear day, with lovely views towards the Farne islands. That's been my longest ride for a long time, and now that I'm home I feel tired, but pleased with myself. I didn't see Robert Lindsay, or Joanna Lumley though.

(I was going to show my age by remembering Bamburgh as one of the locations for the 1968 film of The Lion in Winter. But that would really have shown the toll that age is taking. I think it was actually the 1964 film Becket that I was remembering - wrongly).

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