David Blunket’s Labrador

Amber - 8 weeks
Here’s a picture of a Labrador for context. This is of course Amber before she grew into ‘The Dog Most Likely to be chosen by Beelzebub’ 🙂

For the 40th night this year, I’ve literally been sent to Coventry. Sat collecting Premier Inn reward points while my friends toast hot dusty trails with lashings of cold beer. That’s fine* of course. It’s not their fault there’s a black hole of things to do and I’m todays chosen singularity.

The long suffering readers of this nonsense are already contemptuous – born of familiarity – of the excuse litany which holds me fast and fat to the sofa come night rides in the winter. Right now tho, with less than a month before the seasonally unadjusted of us give homage to the high apex of the sun**, I’m missing, to the point of whine, racing clean bikes on hard baked trail puffing dust at every corner.

And not just that. There’s something about the Wednesday night ride which releases the work-weary into a world where being entirely inappropriate is entirely appropriate*** Swearing is a good example. It’s not so much acting to enrich a adjective, more shotgunned in as punctuation.

I mean if you can’t call your mate a total fucktard, that’s hardly the basis for a stable relationship is it? There’s more- between the air matching the sky’s blue, tall stories fall from higher states. Those states where even repressed middle aged Englishmen might risk the tiniest fist-bump to suggest, in a non homo-erotic way, that the last trail was more than a little pleasing.

Confused? I certainly was when another Alex regaled our troupe of sweaty monkeys on a story he’d heard from a mate who reckoned he knew someone famous. The story went that this person of supposed note had invited Mr Blunket – who was Home Secretary at the time – back to her home for reasons of entirely reasonable platonic discussions.

Arriving at said palatial mansion, she was someone shocked to find her husband – how can we put this – in a impossible to ignore sexual tryst with another man who had become equally famous by shouting at people in kitchens. That’s not the funny bit – it was the fact that the Home.Sec, on account of not being able to see, was asking all sorts of question regarding who was there, what were they doing and what the hell was that noise they were making.

Apparently the Labrador could never again be enticed over any bedroom threshold. Even with a biscuit. And that’s a Labrador we’re talking about. History is somewhat less specific on exactly what happened next. It hardly matters as it’s clearly bullshit, so not worthy of even a cursory analysis for a nugget of truth.

And yet, it’s a shining example of why I love Wednesday night rides. Sure when it’s dry, warm and light – three variables so sadly missing for at least six months of the year – casting aside the drudgery of a long day with a single heartfelt ‘fuck‘ should be enough.

It isn’t tho. I rode alone a fantastic bike the other day on perfect trails with no deadlines to bring me home. And it was fine. But no more than that. My maxim that riding bikes if ‘50{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of where you are riding and 50{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of who you are riding with‘ has mostly been confirmed as an axiom.

I’ve no idea if Mr Blunket’s dog is still receiving weekly canine therapy. Nor can I wordsmith the tale in a way that makes it as rib crunchingly funny, as when told to a bunch of endorphin’d up trail addictsby a man who finds humour in the strangest places.

I do miss it though. Yeah I can go for a run, or apathetically sweat inside a hotel gym or take long walks to relieve the boredom, or – as generally happens – sit in front of this laptop attempting to slash and burn the epic tome representing my to-do list. It’s not even close to the same.

Being at home is fab. Much of which is just that; being at home with your family in a happy place where everything mostly makes sense. And you get to slack off to ride bikes on evenings so close to summer, let’s call it that.

Next week maybe, I’ll be released from what I believe has been nominated as‘the most pointless ring road in the history of town planning’. Until then I’ll cheer myself up by buying another bike. An internet connection and a bored mountain biker generally does not end well.

That poor Labrador tho 🙂


*It’s really not. The selfish bastards 🙂

**Assuming it’s not raining. Which it generally is.

***To be completely honest, for a few of my riding pals, this distinction is not that obvious.

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