Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An eventful day with a folder

I decided to take the Dahn Curve SL test bike to the Shrewsbury CTC midweek ride today, Tuesday 10th July. It turned out to be an enjoyable but eventful day. For the news page, I'd better try to keep it brief:
Travel - the local train from Tipton to Wolverhampton was very late, and no explanations offered, but it seemed to be a general problem affecting trains from Birmingham, so I still arrive in comfortable time for the train the Shrewsbury (which had also come from Birmingham). This too was delayed, but not by much, and by the time it got to Shrewsbury it had recovered some lost time.
Miniature Shetland Ponies - at Wellington a young lady who boarded the train was so taken with my folder that she asked the Train Manager whether her miniature Shetland Pony would be allowed on the train (no, she hadn't got it with her on this occasion). He was doubtful, but not certain, and obviously intrigued by the idea, so he used his mobile phone to contact his boss, but still no definitive answer. When I left Shrewsbury station they were discussing it with interested but puzzled staff on the information desk at the station. Miniature Shetlands are smaller than some large dogs, and apparently they can be trained as guides for the blind - slower to train than a dog, but much longer lives. And yes, the answer to the obvious question, it is claimed they can be house-trained as well! Use Google to search for Guide Pony to find out more.
The CTC Ride - a most enjoyable ride to Long Lane - I was a bit taken aback, as the web site advertised a ride to Welshampton, but apparently the hostelry there has closed down. I'd been planning to ride part of the way home from the lunch stop, rather than go back to Shrewsbury, and the changed destination actually suited me better.
The ride back - as I was on the Curve, I was not sure how far I would ride before catching a train. Everything was fine until Telford, where inevitably I got lost. The signposting is Telford is the worst that I have encountered anywhere in the world, and I have never visited this godforsaken place without getting lost. I've had a GPS system for almost a year now, but this was the first time I had to use it to extricate myself from anywhere. I eventually located National Cycle Route 81 (by luck), and all went well until I reached Albrighton, when either the signs weren't there, the route ends without any warning, or I missed a sign (though I was looking our very carefully for them). As a result I ended up riding on the A41 to Wolverhampton - not an experience I would recommend to others, though there are certainly worse roads. Returning to the subject of Telford, the author Ellis Peters (best known for the Brother Cadfael books), wrote a book (very entertaining, and set in the 1970s, nothing to do with Cadfael) entitled "Never Pick up Hitch-Hikers!". It's set in a fictitious new town, and a major element of the plot is that the hero gets lost due to the new road scheme and the signposting, or lack of it. Brother Cadfael was in Shrewsbury, and that series of books was about the immediate surroundings, so I don't think there can be any doubt that Ellis Peters had Telford in mind when she wrote "Never Pick up Hitch-Hikers!". That book was published in 1976, but the signposting hasn't improved.
The Curve - by the time I got home I'd covered about 82Km, or just over 50 miles. I'm pretty impressed with it so far - very comfortable, enjoyable to ride, good brakes, perhaps the overall gearing is a fraction high for me (I had to take a breather on one steep hill on the way out of Telford), a bit of flex in the handlebar/stem, easy and quite compact to fold, and the new luggage mount seems to work well with a small bar bag. You will need to wait about 10 days for a full report, by which time I hope others will have had a chance to try it and offer their comments at the Malvern Origami Ride on 14th July.