Long summer bike ride

2006-05-04

in Books and literature, Daily updates, Oxford, The outdoors

Unidentified bird

Happy Birthday Greg Polakoff

Today was unambiguously the first summery day in Oxford. As seemed to befit it, I went on my longest bike ride so far: 42.6km from Oxford to Blenheim Palace and Woodstock, then back via Kidlington. I’ve heard that Blenheim Palace and gardens are really nice, but I definitely wasn’t willing to pay eleven Pounds to get in. Instead, I found a shady spot outside Woodstock and read Kerouac’s On the Road for a few hours. While sitting in the shade, molested but unbitten by flies, I actually saw what I can only conclude was a pheasant: a big, red, darting sort of bird that ran off and hid when I tried to photograph it. I also saw huge numbers of cow, sheep, and horses – as well as rabbits and lots of birds.

After leaving Woodstock, I found the road between Kidlington (which is on the way to Oxford) and Deddington (which I walked to one night). Once I realized that Deddington was a further nine miles from where I found that road, I veered off eastwards and found the much smaller town of Tackley. Throughout the ride, there was nice countryside. It would have been perfect but for the strangely insistent sun and the truck that caused me to slam my hand against a metal fence by not signaling when it was exiting from a roundabout. If I hadn’t checked, it would have been overall splattering from under-correction, rather than one nasty bang from over-correction.

I am enjoying On the Road. It has what I would call a Catcher in the Rye narrator: someone focused on being self-sufficient, somehow outside the system, but still caring and generous. The book makes me want to take another road trip in the US.

Instead, I should spend the rest of tonight burnishing thesis ideas for presentation to Dr. Hurrell tomorrow.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben May 4, 2006 at 10:17 pm

I’m impressed with your fitness, especially as today was too hot to really do anything other than lounge around… Surprised you don’t have more work to do too, even if it is only just post-QT.

R.K. May 5, 2006 at 6:19 pm

I’d say that’s a pheasant, though there are lots of different types.

A very ugly website listing bike trips near Oxford is here.

B May 6, 2006 at 1:31 pm

I am really curious about what you will think of Kerouac. He’s one of those authors who says a lot about those who appreciate him, and perhaps more about those who really don’t.

Milan May 7, 2006 at 12:14 am

My favourite bit so far:

“But then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled along as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ”

Keruoac, Jack. “On the Road.”

Milan May 7, 2006 at 12:43 am

One thing I like about Kerouac, and one reason why he strikes me as more of a Sallinger than a Hunter Thompson, is that while there is ugliness in the world he presents, there isn’t too much bitterness. I rarely empathise with overly bitter narrators.

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