Last Saturday morning I was lying in the middle of the road on a country lane somewhere in Essex. I hadn’t expected to be there. I mean I expected to be there but I didn’t expect to stay for long. There was no one around except my bike, which I appreciate isn’t a person but often makes more sense than most, who was lying further down the road its hub still clicking round as the birds laughed at my predicament from the relative safety of the branches above.
After a brief period of shock I arose from my horizontal position to sit upright and survey my surroundings. Everything was OK. I could move, I knew what was going on and recognised the pain from a handful of previous experiences that I had had from thudding into tarmac unexpectably. Sitting here writing about it the pain can only be summed up by describing a sketch in the cartoon Family Guy. It could have been a lot worse but jeez it hurt and continued to hurt for a while.
My newly serviced pride and joy now had 55% less gears than it had a minute ago and I had blood running down my leg and arm not to mention tearing a pair of shorts but hey it’s Saturday morning and I’m out on the bike so it could be worse. Two hours later, much to my girlfriends dismay, I got home having spent a great morning on my 9 now speed bike around the county. It wasn’t a bad ride, only a bit of a pain having so few gears when I had so many when I started. I had a great morning!
A few days later I was riding my bike down in the Forest of Dean, this time in the woods. The trails there were super. Really rutted and rooty and technical. I rode with a friend who I haven’t seen for ages and even though we weren’t the quickest and I didn’t clear all of the drops it was a great day and well worth the long journey time. Sometime in-between then and now I was out on the road, again on my own having missed meeting up with a group locally because of some chores and again it hit me that there isn’t a better feeling. OK, of late I’ve been out solo a bit. Yes it is very windy in the Dengie today and indeed it is a struggle to get over 15mph in one direction but all that said and done this is fantastic. No one is around, the road is my own and this time is a point in time that is mine. I'm not in a particular rush and the ten minute chat I just had with an old guy in Burnham was actually quite pleasant. He was a nice gent and his sheepdog was a beauty. He loved his cycling and was regaling me stories of how he used to time trial up and down the A127 back in the day. No, damn right you wouldn’t do that now! I guess the only thing that spoilt the scene was that I only stopped initially to check my emails.
The roundbout point here is that cycling, despite having i-phones bleat at you occasionally, is romantic. When Brad Wiggins talks about how he thrives on the solitude and romance of training I can really see where he is coming from. I remember reading or hearing a story where he rode a 100 miler solo on Christmas day because he knew that no one else would be doing it that day. Now Strava tells me I was not the only man in the Dengie that day and I was certainly not the fastest up North Hill on 9 gears, well, maybe I was thinking about it, that day anyway, on 9 gears.
After work rides are back and commutes are getting lighter!
It’s Spring now, the clocks go back next week, or forward or whatever, and it’s time for evening racing, evening riding, long days on the road and in the woods. For those of us that commute regularly the layering is changing and you might have a different pair of gloves in your backpack for going home now! We have had a taste of Spring recently and now I think we are all ready for it.