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Cycling through daylight’s darkness in Bath’s Two Tunnels

Two Tunnels Before and AfterOn the first real almost-spring-like day this year, Tolii, Tosha and I (Katya was ill) headed up to Bath to cycle in the darkness of the Two Tunnels.

Thankfully, there were plenty of things going on in the daylight too: a fun festival with burger stand and beer tent.

For the past few years, Sustrans (a registered charity) has been converting a disused railway line into a shared path that people walking and cycling can enjoy on their way to work or when out for a bit of leisure.

I wrote a story about it over on The Joy of Cycling where I also embedded the video that I made.

What isn’t written there though is how my kids and I got separated just at the exit of the shorter of the two tunnels! You’ll see them riding ahead of me, then they scoot around some people who are walking just before the tunnel’s exit. I got stuck behind the people because others were entering the tunnel.

ARH20130406-1642-A55-051590 (resized)

Into the lightly-lit darkness.

END UP IN SALISBURY?

I figured that they gave a burst of speed in their new found freedom and took off down the track. I came out of the tunnel and passed the people but must have also passed them – I didn’t see them, nor them me.

I didn’t get too worried though – it was a closed path, but I had no idea how far ahead it went. Maybe I’d end up in Salisbury before catching up with them!

Later, my wife told me that our children are quite sensible and always stop and wait. Now I know. Because sure enough they had.

Meanwhile, I raced ahead and got to the entrance of the next tunnel. I waited. I took some photos. I waited some more. Then I figured, they’re definitely on their way to Salisbury. So, into the tunnel I rode.

Who's children would drop leaves on people?

Who’s children would drop leaves on people?

SOOTHING

In the middle of the tunnel is a wonderfully soothing music and light show – very understated but just right to relax you at that point when you cannot see the entrance or exit because of the slight bend in the tunnel. I got off my bike and waited. I took some photos and more video. I waited a bit more. Then I figured, they’re well past Salisbury by now. So, I continued to ride out.

Emerging back into daylight, I enjoyed the lovely countryside that included none of my children, nor my friend John whom I had also met at the start of the ride. That’d be him on the Brompton you see in the video.

So, I rode on. It is a wonderful path. The viaduct offered a spectacular view.

STRAIGHT OR LEFT?

I came to the point where the sign “Bike Ride” pointed left, and took people off the old railway track path. Now, would my kids have followed that sign and the people going left, or would they have continued straight on the route?

They would have continued straight. For sure. Right?

I rode straight on.

Soon, I came to an old platform where the former Midford railway station used to be. Just at its end was a barrier and a car park for the Hope & Anchor pub and neither my children or friend John.

A refreshing end to the route.

A refreshing end to the route.

POSSESSED?

Either my children truly were possessed by the bicycle bug and passed this point on their way to Salisbury, or they had sense and didn’t. I figured my kids had sense and that they must have been behind me. Or taken the left at the “Bike Ride” sign. As for John, he may very well have been in the pub. Priorities. I turned around and rode back in search of my children. The pub would be open late. And my kids would know to look for me in it if we managed to completely miss each other.

I got back to the “Bike Ride” sign. I waited. But not long. Decision time. I stayed on the track and rode up to the tunnel entrance. Lots of people and none of them related to me.

The minder of my children.

The minder of my children (whom I owed a heart-felt ‘Thank You’)

IN MY VIEWFINDER…

So I got the video camera out again (I had stopped filming when I reached the car park barrier) and did some shots of the walls on the side leading up to the tunnel. I panned down and across to the entrance. There in my viewfinder appeared Tosha, then Tolii. And then John.

“You can have your children back now,” said my good friend John.

He wasn’t smiling too much (they can be a handful, but I think it was more me he was upset with than them).

I explained my story (see above). He said they had waited in many places because both my kids insisted that I was behind them. Remember, they never saw me pass by at the exit of the first tunnel.

That would explain why all my waiting was in vain – they were waiting too but further back.

BACK TO THE PUB!

Thanks exchanged, happiness restored, we set out together and surprise! ended up at the pub. I bought the drinks and crisps. It was the least I could do.

Now, if you watch the video, you won’t see things this way. It will appear that we all travel together to the pub. That’s the magic of editing.

My kids said it was the best day out cycling they had ever had. Me too. Probably for John as well. 🙂

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