What’s surprising about the 30 Days of Cycling thingy is that if anyone had asked me, I would have sworn that I actually do cycle almost every day. But it turns out I don’t.
There have been at least two days so far when I wouldn’t have got the bike out if it wasn’t for the sole purpose of not reneging on the 30 days of biking pledge.
Once was yesterday when I’d been doing family stuff and Jobs At Home which left no time for my stuff until it was almost dusk. The house was warm. I’d been wrestling shrubs in the shrub border and we’d cleared three car loads of prunings to take to the tip. It had been kind of exerting and one might have given in to a hot shower before supper and the rest of the evening in jim-jams. But there was the pledge. And I have a spiffy new bike light which is so powerful, it could light up Mars. Well ok, that’s pretty easy-to-spot hyperbole so let’s settle for the bird table at the Far End (far end, mind you) of the garden when the bike is still in the kitchen!!
Impressed? Yup, you should be. This light is also fabulous because you can have the wide angle, more diffuse beam to light up the trail if you’re cycling off road at night or you can hone it down to a lasersharp shard of light, which is ideal for teasing the cats! Win/win/miaow!!
So I togged up and went out for a blat in the dark which was short, and sweet but nothing to compare to today’s ride, which was a purely because a) doing Good Deeds Around the House drives me absolutely nuts after a couple of hours and b) I had Pledged (30 Days of Biking, not the squirty stuff).
So it’s chucking it down with rain and blowing a gale but I still went out and rode 14 miles. To be perfectly frank, when I took off at 1pm, the rain was gentle yet the wind almost brought me to a halt as I attempted to pedal DOWN the first hill. I sometimes get up to 30mph on this hill. Today I was working hard to achieve 19mph.
And, as is generally the case, it felt good to be out. When there are strong winds, you generally get them in your favour somewhere along the loop so there are unexpectedly pleasant boosts where you usually have to give it some welly.
I knew I would get wet and filthy – it had been raining all morning so there was plenty of water on the roads but over 14 miles you don’t get cold enough to notice it – and there is a nice cuppa and a hot shower at home.
On the plus side, the roads were much quieter than a weekday and I saw a heron in the verge at the side of the road – always a sign of a spell of wet weather. I don’t know whether he was expecting eels to be crossing the meadows or what but I’ve seen a heron in exactly the same spot before.
I didn’t see one other cyclist. The only human who wasn’t in a car was a woman in a blue rainproof, hood up, walking a long-haired German Shepherd ( a dog not a hippy with a crook wearing lederhosen). We exchanged smiles and greetings. I couldn’t hear what she said and I couldn’t see much either what with the rain dripping off the peak of my helmet and the rain and mud drops all over my specs. But I got the feeling we communed a certain warmth – that bond you have with complete strangers when you are jointly coping with some kind of adversity. Voluntary adversity in our case.
So the ride was without incident – oh except to note that the only drivers who drove by at 40mph far too close to me were small people. A small old guy and another small person – so tiny that you could hardly see their heads above the headrests. It got me thinking that maybe there’s a correlation between short stature and lack of ability to realise just how wide your bloody car is and just how bloody close you are to that cyclist in the red jacket with the winky red rear light.
And lo, it came to pass that the heavens opened even further and tipped it down so that my head was cold and wet in stripes where my helmet vents were. But by then I was on the final hill home, three minutes away from a nice mug of PG Tips and a banana.
I feel curiously happy and energised. After all worse things happen at sea.
Gale warnings – Issued: 0813 UTC Mon 09 Apr
Southwesterly gale force 8 expected soon
Shipping Forecast – Issued: 1030 UTC Mon 09 Apr
- Southwesterly, veering northwesterly later, 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8.
- Sea State
- Moderate, becoming rough or very rough.
- Rain then squally showers.
- Moderate or good, occasionally poor at first.