A depth-first search of the countryside.

Seeing as it's a bank holiday, the weather is fine, and I haven't been out on a bike ride for a small eternity, I decided to borrow my sister's bike and ride out. My plan was this: each time the road split, I would follow one of the roads. If I reached a dead end or a major road (A-Class), I would turn back, and follow the other road until it too ended or joined a major road. When I'd explored both routes (there weren't any crossroads), I'd return to the last point where I'd only explored one route, and try the other. This could be drawn like this.

    _____/ \_____
 __/\__       __/\__
/\  __/\   __/\__  
   /\   __/\__  /\__
       /\    /\    /\
I set out at half-past twelve, BST, from Aldford, cycling down Mill Lane which is little more than a farm track to avoid The Rocks. The Rocks aren't too dangerous. If you're in a car, anyway. For half a mile, the road cuts through a outcrop of sandstone, with sheer sides. It means that if you fall over, you can't get out of the way of on-coming traffic, and visibility is obscured slightly by the sandstone. After rejoining the main road (I call it the main road: it's only B-Class, and there's now the bypass which means it's quieter), I cycled down into Churton and had a quick half of Coke at the White Horse. I then turned down Pump Lane. Turned into would be slightly inaccurate: Pump Lane goes down, down, down. There's one turning off Pump Lane which I ignored: it's a one-way street anyway, so I couldn't go down that way anyway.

On the way to Coddington, there is one path that I occasionally travel: the farm tracks. Around Aldford there are a network of farm tracks leading between the farms. This reduces traffic on the roads, reduces problems due to dirt being spread on the public highway, and reduces the time taken to travel between the farms. Usually, I'd take this route, but with Foot and Mouth, they're all closed. Ho hum. But it makes my job simpler, and removes all loops from the map.

Coddington is a small village. I reached it at a T-junction: I turned left towards the church, and rode for some distance before reaching any more junctions.

Now, my mind is rarely at rest. I find that pleasant bike-rides let me think freely. Having read fully two-thirds of The Lord of The Rings on Saturday (I didn't do anything else!), hobbits, magic and the other parts of Tolkien's creations were running in my mind, as well as a possible character for GarouMUSH, a Werewolf: The Apocalypse based MUSH. I considered what character in Middle Earth I would best play in the forthcoming movie. Would I be Bilbo, the jovial host who gets sucked in and corrupted by his ring? Frodo, the ring-bearer, plodding along towards his destiny? Gandalf, the wizard? Merry Brandybuck, the jolly but good friend of Frodo? Sam Gamgee, who follows his friend loyally to the ends of the Earth? Or any of the other more minor characters? I didn't come to any conclusions, but I'd like to think that I'd be more like Gandalf or the elves than any of the little people or the more violent humans.

I ride alone, but not silently. I sing, hum and whistle to myself as I go. Some are common songs: others are little ditties that I make up as I go along. My train of thought as I cycle is long, twisted and wierd. One thing will lead to another, which leads to yet another still. I recall singing a tune about the Lord of the Rings, although I do not remember either the words or the music. I do remember singing the chorus to I know you're out there somewhere by The Moody Blues, or at least as much as I can remember of it. In fact, it's probably a good job I don't ride with others. They may think that I am mad. Whether I am or not, is none of your business!

The A45 got in the way a number of times. For those of you who don't understand British Road numbering, here's a quick guide: as a general rule, the number of digits is the importance of the road. The A1 is the main North-South artery. The A10 to A19 will be around the A1, and be major roads. The A100 to A109 will be around the A10 and be quite important. The B roads are reasonably minor. This makes the A45 a major local route, and a Bad Idea for someone on a pushbike. So I turn around.

There are a number of villages that the A45 bypasses. Handley is one of them. I came into Handley via a T-junction, again, and took the Left Hand Path, which lead to the A45. I retraced my steps and went right: after a quick conversation with a horse, I noticed that this too lead to the A45. I retraced my steps back again.

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. That's certainly true in cycling. However, it's also true that when you make your lunch, you get to eat it. What I mean is, if you go downhill, you've got to go uphill at some point to regain your height (if you're doing a round-trip, at least.). But if you're mainly going uphill, then your return journey will be made much easier. With Aldford at a height of only 15m above sea level, the outward journey is always harder than the inward journey.

I must confess, I didn't tell the absolute truth about my travels. I did 'cheat', once. But it's not really cheating. What I did was I cycled a short distance along the A45 (along a footpath along the A45), to a pub, the Cock O'Barton. Unfortunately, it was closed. But it at least let me cycle quickly back via a one-way street.

When you're cycling, take plenty of water, and don't take salty foods. Grabbing all I could from the house, I found a chocolate bar (good), a packet of crisps (bad), and a packet of Fish and Chips shaped snacks (very bad). I couldn't find any cartoned drinks, nor a container, which meant I was pissed when I found that the Cock was closed.

If you're going to make a depth-first search, remember how many nodes you've passed. I was moderately annoyed when I returned to Coddington, to discover I'd forgotten about the other node, which split up again.

I returned to the White Horse after talking to a few friends I met, and had a few more drinks to recover fluids, before returning home.

Of course, I haven't completed every road: only those from Pump Lane. But the others can wait for another day.

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