Monday, 17 October 2016

It's Good to Have a Hobby or Two

On Saturday afternoon I drove to Blandford Forum in glorious sunshine with my bike in the back of the van. Eight of us had arranged a ride in the picturesque countryside between Wimborne and Shaftsbury. We had a circuit of some 65 miles before us; a few testing hills in the first half, then a coffee stop at Compton Abbas airfield before a flattish run back to Blandford. Nice. Conscious that the evenings are drawing in a bit now, I took my lights. Just on the off-chance...

Ten minutes before arriving at the café the heavens opened. We traipsed wetly in and sat down to big slabs of cake and various hot beverages. The talk was cheerfully gung-ho; we knew the weather forecast was bad, but we were men. Heading out again the rain was heavy. Very heavy. One consequence of a downpour is that all the razor sharp little flints which dry tyres normally shrug off with ease suddenly find themselves nicely lubricated, facilitating effortless passage through the sturdy tread of even a Continental Gatorskin. Soon: Pfftsssss-s-s-s-s...

Puncture #1

It's always the back wheel, the one where you have to manipulate the chain. It's mucky. It's fiddly too, and 10x more so in the wet. Anyway, the mood was "Ah well, not to worry...", a bit of banter and whatnot.

A short while later it was my turn. The routine is familiar, if thankfully quite rare: remove wheel, prize off one side of tyre, winkle out knackered tube, carefully check tyre for cause of puncture, dig out guilty flint, pop in new tube, curse tyre for reluctance to go back on, inflate, hope, refit wheel. As you can imagine, a rear wheel puncture takes several minutes to rectify. I noticed that the tips of my fingers had gone numb, and one or two of the lads were a bit chilled. Standing around in the rain in skimpy togs you certainly feel the temperature dropping as the afternoon heads rapidly toward evening. Anyway, off we went again, quite anxious to get the circulation going once more.

No chance of that.

Suffice to say we totalled six punctures between us, flirted with varying degrees of hypothermia and arrived back in the pitch dark, well after 7pm. All agreed: a truly memorable ride. Eager plans for the next are already afoot.

Cycling is one of my hobbies. Reading the above account, anyone can see the attraction. As well as the exciting risk of mild exposure in this particular case (sadly not guaranteed every time out) factor in the lung-busting joy of a long, steep hill, the exquisite agony of thighs that have been asked too much of, the little thrill as you realise you left your pump at home again...

Yes. Irresistible.

I have other hobbies of course. Birding is one. I suppose blogging kind of is too. In fact this post was going to be all about blogging...and then I had that brilliant ride.


  1. Welcome back Gav. You've been sorely missed.

  2. Good job there wasn't thirty of you out riding Gav, you'll still be out there.
    Good circuit all the same.
    Those puncture resistant tyres are meant to be never quite resistant enough. The manufacturers of puncture repair kits and replacement inner tubes are not to be messed with.

    1. Ha ha! Very true Ric. Though you can actually buy solid tyres if you are utterly determined to avoid punctures! In which case you'd probably suffer from a snapped chain or broken spokes; your bike would find some way to get you!