I am biking to the Open University now. For Xmas I purchased myself a modestly priced Vilano 21 Speed at £140 this seemed like something that could both offset my commute costs and integrate exercise into my daily routine. The bus costs £2.10 each way so biking will cover the cost of the bike in about 2 months. I have already gone between home and school 4 times saving around £16. The ride on the bike seems to save time as well. It takes about 10 minutes to get to campus from my place on a bike, which is sometimes less time than it takes when waiting for the bus. While it helps that this saves both time and money what I enjoy most about it is the scenery.
There is a path directly behind my house that passes between two pastures. Sylvie (sp?) is the local resident of those pastures. I see her on a daily basis and it just seems awesome that my commute includes saying hello to a horse when I leave my house.
After rounding the corner from Sylvie’s pasture I am essentially on the Heritage Cycle Trail of the Ouzel Valley with my first sight the still functioning holy trinity church in Woolstone. This church dates from the 13th century. The trail guide says that there is evidence of a Norman church foundation as well as archeological evidence of Roman occupation. My wife and our two kids went to a service here during the Christmas holiday last month to sing carols. It was a nice small gathering of people in the community. My sons are so young that we could not stay for the entire service, but what we saw was nice and the boys did enjoy the singing.
There are a few grazing areas that I cycle through on my commute. Most of the gates have cattle guards so I can pass through. There are three gates that require that I get off of the bike to open the gate. I love how green the pastures look here. In general the land seems very well maintained – making it a very scenic commute.
The second church I pass is called the Little Woolstone Church and is no longer in use. It is located on the site of medieval fish ponds. There is a nice marker that outlines what the ponds used to look like. The ponds are from the 14th century.
Before I arrive on campus I pass underneath the roadway and there is some fun graffiti. It is hard to date the grafiti though I heard that Mark Twain said he took a picture of this with his iPad in the 12th century. The pillar I usually pass has a face on it. Sometimes, if this part of the path is washed out, I pass a mural of what looks like Che Guevarra a few meters down from here.
The final leg of my journey is to park my bike behind the Jennie Lee Building and I am ready to start my day. On my way home it is dark so it usually takes less time as I am not as distracted by the scenery.