In the last month, I have, inadvertently, become a cyclist and in doing so discovered the joy of that is the Bristol to Bath cycle path. A slither of Bristol, I knew existed but had never explored. Lack of a car has necessitated cycling on the day each week spent on the other side of Bristol, volunteering for a small charity, helping out with social media. The buses are not trust-worthy enough with my window of available time between school drop off/pick up. My chosen cycle route is the Bristol and Bath railway path.
Initially, my reaction to cycling nearly 13 miles in a round trip was utter dread. I remind myself that I love cycling and it doesn’t matter how long the gap between last getting on a bike, I know I can travel distance. It might be slow and laboured, but I will get there. On the first morning, I keep to cycle paths and Bristol has plenty. A priggish young man on another bike, orders me out of the path, seemingly to make room for him. I stay put, forcing him to slow. No one falls off. One nil to me. This is what Bradley Wiggins must feel when he wins a stage, I think, and peddle a little faster.
Having navigated busy roads and crowds of commuters, in a side road, behind Bristol’s main station, I find the entry to the Bristol and Bath Cycle path. A slip from tarmac to greenery. Heading away from the city at 9 am, is in opposition to most cyclists, a blur of high-vis, momentarily visible to the naked eye and then gone. High-vis comets. Once I’d worked out that in order to avoid being collateral damage to someone else’s speeding cycle commute, I need to stay far over to the left, all is good. Quickly, the path widens and the pace changes.
A gentle quiet descends, noise of central Bristol kept distant by a wall of greenery. Wending a route via the backs of houses, allotments and the occasional left-over furniture from a railway past. Cyclists joined by people on foot, babies in push-chairs and dog walkers. There is a school crossing and ‘slow’ sign that lights for speedy bicycles. The railway path is relaxing and really enjoyable.
The last part of my journey requires on-road cycling. Other cyclists record their personal best times on a Strava App, my reward is a large jam doughnut, purchased and inhaled in one swift movement of relief at having reached my destination.
Friends have cycled the path all the way to Bath with their kids, that is my next goal. The route makes for a great family cycle ride. Another of Bristol’s hidden treasures.