A favourite ride means something personal to each and every one of us. For some it might be the ride to work, kicking off the day with a fresh early morning ride can certainly lift that feeling of impending doom that sometimes accompanies a monday morning. Perhaps it’s your local dedicated cycle route through town, or maybe a jaunt through the local park. Over the summer I considered myself quite lucky that my favourite ride also coincides with my ride to work, all be it with beverage pitstops on non-working days.
My favourite ride follows the canal in Exeter where I’m from. Although now that I live in Cardiff I’ll have to start looking for a new favourite route, any ideas Cardiffians?
After turning left out of my house I come face to face with a massive hill. It almost always makes me question the ride itself, as it seems almost cruel to start with a monster such as this, but usually the sunshine, or the thought of the canal spurs me on.
At the start of the canal path you have to cross the railway track to get to the cycle path, which although narrow and precariously lumpy, is due a refurbishment from the lovely people at Sustrans some time soon, so I will do a little post on this new and improved route later. For now here’s a taster of what’s to come…
This is the view from the path along the first part of the canal. It’s high tide in these pictures, but come by at low tide and you’ll see the boats all floating a-top the mud instead. I used to always be tempted to jump in the mud and wallow around a bit, that is until my friend, aged 13, attempted this life goal and had to be rescued by a bevy of furious parents. She also lost her cooler-than-cool high tops in the process. In the distance here you can see the Turf Locks, first stop for a local cider and a bowl of fresh-caught crispy whitebait.
Next stop on the tour and our final drink stop is Exeter’s Quayside. A cluster of pubs and restaurants perch on the canal basin where you can grab a dustbin lid sized pizza from On The Waterfront, or catch a live band at The Prospect. If you’re here in the daytime check out the array of beautiful woodwork and glass shops furrowed into the hillside and the gorgeous independent cafes which take up residence in the old bonded warehouses. The Quay is always buzzing in the sunshine, you can hire canoes, pedalos and kayaks from the numerous activity centres, scale the heights of the huge new indoor climbing centre or even hire your own bike form Saddles and Paddles, their range of beach cruisers, tandems, road and mountain bikes will satisfy most bike tastes.
In the summer when the nights are longer you can often find a cider or beer festival taking place on the Quay and the local restaurants and bars will all get involved. This year we were treated to a hog roast, art festival, live bands and beer festival, culminating in a day-long dragon boat tournament in aid of the charity Dream-A-Way .
So tell me…what’s your favourite ride?