Friday, 25 November 2016

Bike Ride Imitates Life

On Wednesday I skived off work early and went for a hefty bike ride. This was naughty. After a lot of wet weather I should really have been earning money, but...well...

It was only about 6 or 7 °C, so I was trying a little dodge I'd read about somewhere. It's always my feet that suffer first in cold weather, but apparently if you wrap kitchen foil over your socks it keeps then all toasty. So that's what I did. Wooly socks, foil, shoes, neoprene overshoes. And off I went, like something ready for the oven.

The country lanes around here are quite lovely, like this one between Eggardon Hill and Beaminster...


This little section is downhill, and as I stopped to take this photo I felt all at peace with the world, life, everything. At the bottom of the slope you go under a disused railway bridge, and on approaching it I noticed a temporary road sign: 'Flood'. Sure enough, beneath the bridge was a stretch of water. Ah well, I thought blithely, I'll coast gently into it and see how we go. Well, we went deep. In just a few yards my 'gentle coast' was grinding to a rapid halt in two feet of water. Nothing for it but to unclip, put down my carefully wrapped tootsies and wade the bike through as quickly as possible. What now? Well, I certainly wasn't turning around and going back! So, drippingly, onwards...

My plan was to ride to Sutton Bingham Reservoir and back, some 45 miles. So far I'd done about seven. By the time I got to SBR my feet were very cold indeed. Walking across the road to take this photo I wasn't quite sure if I had feet at all; I certainly couldn't feel them.


A mile or so later I passed a tractor cutting a hedge with a flail. It's happening everywhere locally right now, and many of the lanes are consequently littered with twigs and chippings. I was just thinking how fortunate we are that most of our hedges down here comprise elm, hazel and suchlike, rather than the diabolical hawthorn, when 'tick-tick-tick-tick...' why, there was a little chunk of wood stuck to my front tyre. I stopped and tried unsuccessfully to flick it off. So I pulled at it. Reluctantly, a thorn about a foot long eased itself out, and a thin hiss of precious air made a bid for freedom...

I got home as it was getting dark. My feet looked - and felt - like huge fillets of refrigerated cod. As I waited patiently for them to thaw naturally before poaching them in a hot shower I meditated on the day's lesson.

Hmmm, I thought, that floodwater was a like a little metaphor for life. You plunge in, all cheery hope and optimism, you wind up seriously out of your depth and you suffer the consequences for ages afterwards.

Then I uncorked a bottle of wine...which cures everything.

8 comments:

  1. Another top post Gav.
    I used to put my sock covered feet into plastic bags before risking damp underfoot conditions, that kept the water out, though in your -display of optimism- something more robust would be required.
    Something along the lines of Waders.
    You did well. I would have got to the flood, taken a look, turned round, gone home... and then gone for the wine.

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    1. Thank you, Ric. When I was at Royal Holloway College I can recall cycling to and from the Thames at Runneymede with all my fishing tackle on board. It's just possible that I might sometimes have been in wellies. If so, that's the closest I've ever come to waders on a bicycle.

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  2. I'm with Ric. Apart from the leaving the house part.

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    1. How are you ever going to enjoy a nice bit of suffering with that kind of attitude?

      Oh, wait, I forgot...you already know! :-)

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  3. Ah Runneymede! Whenever I hear of that name I think: Gav - fishing - night- Barbel - 4lb's - cheese.

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    1. Yes Ric, my one and only Thames barbel. June (16th I think) 1978. Complete fluke.

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  4. No such thing. In your case Gav, it was 'natural-superior-skill'.

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  5. Couldn't have put it better myself... ;-)

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