Every now and then I like a ‘proper’ bike ride. Not just a rushed morning commute, with my head full of myriad small worries about the day ahead, but a cycle ride for no purpose other than my own enjoyment.
On Saturday the sun shone; gloriously, freakishly, from a clear blue sky. After a busy day I decided the prospect of spending what was left of it doing housework and laundry was too depressing for words, so I optimistically changed into t-shirt and shorts (I did pack a hoody in the pannier, just to stay on the safe side) and headed out.
The smell of hundreds of hastily-planned barbecues was heavy in the air and the world had a warm rosy glow about it, even drivers where far more considerate than usual. I had no particular route in mind, just aimed vaguely southwards, out of the city. I wondered about following the Mersey along the Trans-Pennine trail for a bit, but that’s properly off road and my new bike has skinny wheels and a delicate constitution.
So I settled on the Airport Orbital, which I’d done before and ticks a lot of boxes; it’s off road, there are some lovey green countryfied bits, and I’d be home in time for dinner.
If you get the chance, this route’s well worth a look. It’s well signposted, and safe for families, with the majority being on off-road cycle lanes.
There are some beautiful peaceful stretches like this where you could be a million miles from anywhere, not within metres of one of the country’s busiest airports.
And if like me, you secretly really rather like aeroplanes, you can sit and watch take-offs and landings to your heart’s content.
Or you could unleash your inner hooligan and pelt along at top speed in the tunnels under the runway, while testing out the echo in there with a good yell or two (yes, you can go very fast with no wind resistance, and the echo is very, very loud).
Then there’s the slighter sinister burnt out shell of an ‘airliner,’ used by fire crews to practice dealing with aviation accidents.
My ride door-back-to-door was around 20 miles, but the bit around the airport is 8 miles or so I think. Here’s a map of my route, and if you’d like to download the official map of the route, it’s online here