August 6 – Sunday

Off to a bit of a late start on my ride – didn’t get on the road until around 12:30. Made my way north along the paths towards the canal that runs all the way from Worcester to Birmingham, but came to a gate that was closed with ‘do not cross’ tapes. Turned east along the sidewalk and ended up in a Sainsbury warehouse parking lot that I thought might have an exit north – it didn’t. Had just turned around to back-track when a security guard called out to me. Went over and showed him my map to find out exactly where I was, and told him where I wanted to go. Had a bit of a chat – he’s from the former Yugoslavia so was interested that I had been in Croatia, and his partner mentioned that he had a cousin that lives in Vancouver – it’s a small world after all – ha ha.

He told me how to get to the canal, which I thought was totally wrong – back the way I’d come then head left when I thought I should be heading to the right. Riding along the sidewalk I saw a vine hanging in the way – at the last moment I realized it was covered with vicious looking thorns so slammed on the brakes to avoid getting slashed across the face. My left hand slipped off the grip and my forearm scraped heavily along the handlebar. The pain was so bad I had to just grit my teeth and start riding – if I thought about it I knew I’d start to cry so I tried not to breathe too deeply and just kept pedalling. The pain would ebb for a moment, then return – I tried to ignore it. After a few minutes I took a quick look at the damage – a bit of skin missing and a small lump – I’m going to have a lovely bruise in a day or two.

The gate that had been taped up when I first passed it was now open – another rider had just pushed through and was sitting on a bench overlooking a pond and smoking a cigarette. The path, which was to the right, not the left as the security guard had indicated, led onto an old road, which led to the canal – I knew the guard had given me wrong directions.
The canal was awesome – I entered the canal path right before one of the locks, and a boat had just passed through. I passed some more locks in short order before things flattened out a bit. There were quite a few boats – mainly tour boats, but also house boats, some in transit and some tied up along the canal-side. The boats are long and very narrow so they can pass each other and fit into the locks, which are also very narrow. Passed a couple of guys with fishing lines in the water – asked one what he was after and he said perch (and something else I didn’t understand). I asked if he sold them or kept them for food and he said he just threw them back in – he had a tray of four different kinds of bait – all live wiggly things in various shades of white and pink.

Rode as far as Dunhampstead, where I left the canal path just to see what was there. There are many entrances to the path, and this seemed to be a main one – there was a sign for ‘party parking’ so I thought it might be a small town or something. There was a bridge that said ‘Weak Bridge’ so I thought that was the name of the place, as well as some houses and other buildings. There was a party happening at the place on the canal that had the parking sign – kids running around and stuff – maybe a wedding reception or something.

Got back on the canal path and headed towards home. Found my way back after leaving the canal no problem – my sense of direction isn’t too bad, most of the time, and I didn’t even need the map (or bad directions from any security guards!).

Stopped at the store on the way, then as I arrived home found Jane and Lynn having a chat at the front of the houses. Stopped to tell them where I’d been – Lynn laughed when I told her I’d been as far as Weak Bridge – apparently that’s a generic term for a bridge that can’t take too much weight – ha ha on me!

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