Hurrah, the sun was shining on Saturday and Olympic Park, with its 35km of bike trails, beckoned. I reckoned it was time Penelope got a run around the Park - last time I took Petunia, but this is really Penelope's territory. Relatively flat, it's ideal territory to get a heavy hub-gear ladies' cruiser going at a smart pace. Our ride usually starts near the river, where we warm up our muscles riding along watching boats on the sparkling water.
As you can see, it was warm for late autumn - I'm in clothes that scream 'spring'. Or scream something, anyway. Stripes with an Hawaiian print skirt - what WAS I thinking!? :-) T'other Half isn't as sartorial as I when we go out; it's always the same old shorts and t-shirt mix.
Once you've gone along the water you can choose to turn left at Silverwater Bridge, and ride up past the prison to Holker Street. Holker Street has a slight slope up to a set of traffic lights and then a long, lovely straight run that's slightly downhill. You have a bike lane all to yourself and a bus lane between you and the cars. You can go like stink. We did. T'other Half told me he was in top gear pedalling down Holker. So was I - and I was gaining on him. Penelope gathers a lot of momentum when she has the space to. I don't usually get to put her in top gear as a lot of our local riding is stop/start. It felt absolutely wonderful screaming along as hard as I could pedal with the lightweight little road bike in front getting closer and closer to Penelope's front wheel.
Then we were back on the bike paths, where I typically hover between third and fourth gear. They're winding and go past wetlands, and through bushy areas, past the back of houses, and criss-cross around the place. We usually do the Riverside ride, about 17km, then cross over a main road and ride around Olympic Park itself or the Bicentennial Wetlands. There's another opportunity to pedal like fury on some of the quieter roads there, as they have bike lanes, new and smooth tarmac, and glorious sweeping bends.
However, we'd reached the spot at the southern end of Riverside where we usually turn around and backtrack a bit until we get to the main road when T'other Half tried to turn his bike in a very tight turn and hit the tarmac.
We were only going at walking pace, so it wasn't a bad fall, but he hurt his hip and his knee - ironically, not on the side that actually hit the ground, but I think he twisted his other leg trying to keep his balance or stay on the bike.
T'other Half picked himself up and made masculine grunty moany noises and remounted, but we didn't go on for the longer ride. He was in a bit of pain and for once didn't charge off ahead of me but was content to stay at my tail as we rode back to the car. He said he has now given up all ideas of joining a Golden Oldies Rugby Club; he just doesn't bounce like he used to.
We're both rubbish at tight turns; I've fallen down a couple of times at slow speed trying to do a 180 but then I have awful balance anyway. That's why I find Penelope, with her stability, much nicer to ride than Petunia despite her weight. I think I'll have to do more practice on turns; I usually dismount if we have to turn around on a narrow pathway and retrace our steps.
It's Monday as I write this and he's much better now, but was still stiff yesterday so no riding or avid dog-walking either. Tomorrow we'll be back into it though. We're already planning another ride for this weekend as the weather is just so wonderful right now.