The road less travelled

cycle path

It was a glorious day for a bike ride. I dug my bike out of the garage and set off down our street, got to the end of the road and paused.

Left or right?

Left would take me downhill, and into Wakefield. Right would mean a short uphill, but heading out towards the countryside. Not much of a choice then. I dropped a gear (or two) and set off.

Up and over the top of the hill and I’m faced immediately with another choice. Left at the lights, or straight on? Straight on follows the main road down past the big supermarket and out towards Pugney’s Country Park. It’s nice enough, but always busy on a nice day, plus the road by the supermarket is often heaving with traffic.

Left it is then.

Within a few hundred yards we’re away from the traffic and into the countryside. Up another hill (and down a few more gears) and I’m huffing and puffing up past the golf course on the outskirts of Wakefield. I’ve been cycling around here for many years, but oddly this is a route I’ve never taken. Towards the top of the hill I’m passed by a bunch of lads in a white Audi, who wound the window down so they could lean out and yell at me.

Out of breath as I am, I reply with a one-fingered wave in their general direction, to which I get a toot of the horn in reply. It puts a grin on my face, made wider as I reach the brow of the hill and I see the rolling fields ahead. Quick swig of water and I’m off again, zooming down the hill hunkered over the handlebars, half an eye on the bike computer’s speedometer and the rest on the road. I coast up to the next junction and again face the choice. Straight on, or left again?

Left heads towards Haw Park Woods – we’ve been there with the Scouts a few times so I take the turn and trundle off down the road. It’s not long before I come across a sign for a cycle track. It’s off to the left, and it feels like a left sort of a day, so I turn onto the bridleway. Up a short track and I find myself at Cold Hiendley Reservoir – somewhere I’ve seen on the map many times, but again, I’ve never been. I cycle along past anglers enjoying the sunshine and a cup of tea, couples out walking and a few dog-walkers. It really is a nice day to be out and about, made all the better for being off the road.

Not too much further along the track is Haw Park Wood itself. There’s a fence in the way, with one of those V-shaped sort-of-gates designed so that walkers can get through but not bikes. I half consider going through and up through the woods, but notice the main track heads off to the…

You’ve guessed it. Left. Off we go.

I’ve no idea where I’m likely to end up, but reason that as I’ve been turning left quite a lot, I’ll either end up back where I set off, or cross one of the tracks or roads I’ve already cycled down. Besides, the sun is out, the sky is blue and my bike is whirring along underneath me. It’s a glorious day for a bike ride.

It’s along this track that I took the photo above. The light was coming through the trees just so, there was nary another soul in sight, and it felt like I had the world to myself. I stopped, took the photo then just enjoyed the peace and quiet for a few minutes.

Off we go again and it’s not long before I reach the far edge of Haw Park Wood, and find myself at Waterton Park Golf club – another of Wakefield’s golf courses, and a different one to the one I passed earlier. The track continues enticingly on under the bridge, but as I check my watch, I realise that I’m running out of time and need to head home. One for another day.

As I’m leaving the grounds of the golf course, I realise that I always turn right at the end of the road to go home. I’ve got a few minutes, so I see where left leads me. Another enticing single-track road soon appears, but I add that to my list of places to explore another day and turn back.

I’m soon home, having clocked up a very modest distance of just under seven and a half miles in about 45 minutes. It’s not far at all compared to the distances I was getting to last summer, where a 30-miler wasn’t uncommon, but for today, it’s enough. I’ve done some exploring, found some new places and had a splendid time.

That’s what I love most about my bike. The freedom to just get out there and explore, to see where the wheels will take me. All part of life’s big adventure. In the words of Ferris Bueller:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Stop and look around. Then choose.

Left or right? Where will it take you?

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

8 thoughts on “The road less travelled”

  1. I too have recently discovered all these places on my MTB. Tempting freya out with the lure of a hot chocolate, we stopped at the Haw Park Wood cafe. There must have been over eighty filthy cyclists coming in, heading out, pausing for a hot drink.

  2. I love this! You were cycling in the way I wander – just following your curiosity to see where it leads you. I think I will also have to check out Pugney’s when I am next up that way. I love adding new places to the list.

    I also love the way you write, it is like being there with you 🙂

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