It seems inevitable that the competent and honest overlords governing this metropolis would carefully plan their road upgrades. That our metropolitan borough lacks a city is the least of these flawed assumptions. The final stages of improvements on things that might happen if one described a roundabout to a child that had never seen a car are ongoing and as a result there are a combination of road closures, lane closures and traffic queues. Travel the short way between my three favourite locations wasn’t going to happen.

It did not help that I was getting over some kind of cold. The kind of evil man-flu that leaves the healthiest of our species immobilised for days on television and hobby leave. I did as little as possible for about 4 days and tried to avoid day/night nurse. I felt ok when I finally emerged mid afternoon on Tuesday, probably didn’t need the day nurse which gave me some extra bounce and took away the sneezing-in-helmet paranoia.

Determined to ride, I set off eastbound, found the location of my monday appointment, and turned north across the flat marshland, hoping to extract some fun out of the back roads. I found that many sections of these had been drowned in gravel as an attempt at surface dressing. Inevitably the first bit of good road I find myself stuck behind a volvo driver that does not want to be overtaken. Approaching the next village NSL becomes 40 and I stick to it, the inevitable Golf GTi owner is suddenly filling my mirrors before attempting an overtake into a blind bend forcing me to break, and the pass on the volvo in front looked like vehicular russian roulette. I push past the volvo at the level crossing, wait forever for a train to pass, and it is not seen again.

Late August early September dressings are best avoided if possible. – Invaluable advice on surface dressing

Coffee at the bike shop and buy some more long socks, decent long socks are great, baggy ones suck. Run some errands and hit Morrissons for petrol and shopping.  I take a different route back, this time waiting for 6 trains at a level crossing. Front of queue is L-Plate city, so I wait my turn, engine off side-stand down, for what seems like forever. I wonder how much it costs to sit in a driving instructors car for that long at a level crossing? I stretched my legs and made the odd mock dance move to the insanely loud music coming from a few cars in front. Barriers finally up and learners dispersing I anticipate a quick blast to my next destination. More of the dreaded road surface dressing. Fresh. It’s not to bad but I can’t help but think of the state of the north road, dressed a year ago and already a mess in the braking zones before speed cameras. Bumpy and treacherous. I arrive at my next destination and stop for a rest.

By the time I leave it is dark, I try a route across town avoiding the known roadworks and the fun to the north. Take a wrong turning at a roundabout and have the next few minutes of find a suitable stopping/thinking/u-turn spot being tailgated by a transit van far to close for comfort and filling my mirrors with badly adjusted lights. Apparently the driver was just desperate to get to McDonalds as opposed to following my random sequence of turns that got me eventually back on the right track. I chose to ride round the lake as it has streetlighting and I wouldn’t be caught out by unknown surface dressing on the south side of town. A valid plan, but one made of many roundabouts, and spoiled by more of the damned surface dressing, this time forming furrows along the roads like a ploughed field. The 535 copes well and is immensely stable. The lack of road markings, missing signs and roundabouts that have have crazy filter lanes and are designed to be approached in whatever lane the highway code suggests is a bad idea causes a few more wrong turns and the occasional multiple orbit of the roundabout. I had a Focus following me closely at one point. Only worked out it was a police car when I shook it off doing a multiple orbit of a roundabout. I think they worked out I was lost and not enjoying the gravel sea. The new road between Morissons and Tesco offers brief respite, despite the speed humps it is black and grippy. The other side of it is a mess though, the roundabout looks like someone threw cat-litter all over it, and the dual carriageway has yet more fresh surface dressing, massivley thick forming mounds and speed-humplike ridges, I try to keep my speed down approaching the last roundabout, I need to turn right, cars seem to have other ideas. Oh look, there’s even bigger piles of gravel in the braking area and thrown onto the roundabout and the numbskull shoppers go skidding about all over the place. One of them is getting out of his car to survey the damage, I give him a sarcastic wave as I leave the roundabout. More joy on the last few roads home as I realise the drains have been blocked up so more gravel can go down tomorrow.

It rains. I hear this is bad for fresh surface dressing. I have to cross town and manage to pick a roadwork-free route. It’s very wet, some of the roads are one big puddle, I’d hate to thing what the newly dressed ones look like. My fender extention keeps my coils dry, but my trousers seem to have not keps me quite so dry.


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