Blah blah dawn ride blah dawn mist shrouds the trees, blah surreal view over the Malvern hills, blah sun burning heat and light into the day, blah, 35 MPH sweeping downhill on deserted roads, blah two cars in ten miles. Blah, privilege to be riding my bike.
Pah. Draw the eye back from the flowery wank that that paragraph could so easily have become. Focus critical faculties on issues relating to perilous state of the road surface, still marked by scars that could only be misplaced WWII bombs. Craters deep enough to swallow man and wheel, a camber designed by nature to switch a road to stream in anything much more than a light shower.
And hilly, so very hilly after three years of Chilterns-Twinned-With-Holland commuting. Even with my inner smug drowning out the ground state of grumpy, it couldn’t totally suppress the thought that this route wasn’t going to be a whole lot of fun if it was wet and I was tired. Although I really didn’t expect to have the chance to test this assertion some 11 hours later.
Luckily a hardened commuting nose had smelt rain at 6am, and so a jacket was packed. Unfortunately the aural breeze wasn’t strong enough to stow mudguards or any other waterproofs, which, considering the bouncing rain and spleen trembling thunder which greeted my arrival back in Ledbury, was possibly a slight oversight.
The sky had the look of an unmilked cow, and I wondered whether this could be a good time to fit my lights. Sadly, having not packed the 12 mile arms, they too were on the wrong side of deeply unavailable. So I jacketed up and headed on into a decent impression of a tropical rainstorm. Inevitably balancing narrow slick tyres on wet slick roads was often quite entertaining. And without wishing to big up the danger, a couple of “ooooh shit, I am no longer in control of the steering axis” incidents possibly tipped the terror needle past mildly exciting.
Despite the best efforts of the alien technology* in my ludicrously expensive jacket, my upper body physiology was morphing into that of a boil in the bag. However, this was still a slightly more pleasant experience than the aquaphobic sensation of water sloshing between my toes. And yet even these soggy items came only a distant second in the “All Herefordshire Moist Limb Competition“, easily won by an arse sounding five fathoms, and suffering radial pebbledash.
Event times as miserable as this can be made significantly worse if one chooses a bold clothing decision. My removal of my – by now – smoking jacket perfectly coincided with the entire Al/Bicycle combination becoming beflooded**. Still playing to my dysfunctional democracy, each individual body part was now equally saturated, and every one was voting for an immediate halt under a tree.
Considering the lightening and a hollow feeling that could not be assuaged by the inhalation of my emergency food ***, the higher brain function took a decision to mentally raise the spinnaker and make fast sail for the pub. An athlete’s pep up of one pint and two bags of dry roasted nuts – while hard rain attempted to smash the roof – pepped me up for the final two miles home.
Of which one and a half are up a big f*cking hill demanding much twitching of the girly gear selection thumb. After this was wearily dispatched, only the final plunge through what was probably once a road separated me from a dry arse. This particular rural highway is comprised of three materials, grass, broken hardcore and tarmac. In that order. It’s reasonably involving on 100psi of 23c tyre, while squinting through the rain and darkening sky.
Sure, I was piss wet thru from limited thatch to buckety shoes, the bike was making the kind of noises not associated with long component life, and I feared for the state of the firm’s non waterproof laptop, but it was great to be home.
Because however cold, dark and wet the commute is and whatever the frustration of a million DIY jobs undone, this does feel like home. And after living in limbo for six months, that’s a bloody great feeling.
* Allows sweat to pass, while barring rain from the outside. How can that be, surely they are both of the base element H20? Is there some kind of password? “Sorry matey, you’re not on the list, bugger off”.
** A worthy third of the terrifying triumvirate Beflooded, Benighted and Unbanked. It would take a far stronger man than I to survive simultaneous exposure.
*** Which was keeping my waterproofs, lights and mudguards company.