Pack it in.

Waterproof Jacket. Waterproof Socks. Waterproof Shorts*. Waterproof Socks. Winter Boots. Vast Tent (waterproof). Flippers. Goggles. Canoe. Beer. More Beer. Will To Live.

Maybe a bike.

Maybe not.

Fairly standard packing list for any event caught in the crossfire of English weather, riding bicycles for indeterminable hours and me. Plan for snow and hope for the best is a tactic that served me well especially during the biblical horror of 2009. If evolution could be morphed with always-on modernity, a new homo-wetian cluster would have emerged from the flooded bog of the West Mendips. Equipped with gills.

Raining outside now. Sky as black as a man with his head in a mucky bucket. Something I’d normally be considering channelling my Ostrich coping strategies. And yet a peek of the fickle forecasting interweb returns only patchy rain, a brisk wind and a little chill. Receiving extreme sunburn is unlikely, but then again so is drowning. I’ve chosen not to believe a bloody word of it. Considering a wetsuit.

Packing has not gone well so far if I’m honest. Last night? Ideal, write a list, locate items, wonder if “amusing elephant” has been added to list by not so amusing child. Fail to locate key items that have clearly been hidden. Will To Live on top of that particular list. Open tailgate, and – with a berserker cry – launch multiple wheelbarrows of useless stuff into the back. Adjust fit with handy sledgehammer, job done.

Went riding instead. Dusted off the Cove with crazy notion of deploying it as a spare bike at the CLiC-24. A second rider would be better. And a third come to that. It repaid my negligence and abandonment with a reminder that disc brakes only work when BOTH pads and disks are available to the caliper. Rear ones on the backing, front ones in there somewhere but insufficiently motivated to prevent lever banging against the bar, while arresting no motion of the front wheel.

Good brakes make you go faster apparently. I sort of get that. But let me expand the theory – no brakes AT ALL make you go very fast indeed. The last descent from the Worcester Beacon shall live long between me and my therapist. I’m sure it’s all fixable although chucking the thing on the trailer and assuming it’ll somehow self heal is unlikely to be a successful approach.

Right, it seems I’m nearly out of time and all out of excuses. I’ll take a camera to record the misery which – obviously – I’ll share with you sometime next week. I wonder if it’s too late to book a B&B 😉

* Kinky. I’m not sure an explanation of “yes they may be plastic but who wants a heavy gritting up the arsecrack?” helps much.

Vlad The Impaler.

Not a nice bloke at all. Famous in the 15th century for significant carnage and, well, general impaling. Also referred to as “Dracula“, “Ivan Lendl“*and now a mate of mine called “Geoff“. Or Geoff The Impaler as he clearly has a direct dynastic link to Mr “no time for a trial, run ’em through with cold steel” himself.

Today was designated for chucking toy gliders off big Welsh hills. Apparently it was also scheduled for a short – yet still spinally tapping an 11 on the boredom meter – visit to the local garden festival which I’d conveniently forgotten about**. Anyway after a brief yet tough negotiation on proxying child-care, I chucked a whole load of foam, wood and GRP into the love-bus and made haste to Wales.

Where, on trudging to the slope edge entirely encumbered by silly toys, three things became obvious. Firstly I’d forgotten to bring any food (although I do now have a tea flask which makes me feel about 123 years old), secondly the wind had decided to ply its blustery trade elsewhere, and thirdly my pathetic riding attempts from last night had seamlessly transmogrified into rubbish attempts at missing the ground.

After two “arrivals” which charitably could be called landings only because the model was amazingly available for re-use, I wisely kept the expensive moulded rocket entirely un-built on the grounds I’d also forgotten a large black bag to collect the remains. So a third fling of a glider entirely built (and oft repaired) by my own personal fists of ham, enter stage left a post modern Vlad who ruthlessly upstaged a piece of the 3-D world I had been previously minding my own business in.

The result – as any amateur engineering student will tell you – of a large heavy object hitting something rather light and flimsy will be an explosive energy transfer similar to a high velocity bullet splatting a melon. Descendant of Impaler flew on largely undamaged, while “just flying along” had an airborne rekit of his model with the fusalage plummeting vertically in the manner of a GM lawn dart, and the wing spinning away towards some hard bark.

Not much you can do at this point other than try not to blub. Some 150 feet below us were the remains, and it took a while to collect the various pieces. Amazingly – especially since I built it – the fuz was largely undamaged after its’ sub soil examination of the local peat and the wing has another crease which is merely an addition to the many other repairs. Like Mountain Biking buddies, the fellas were very supportive suggesting some kind of electronically operated bilge hook for the next encounter and also softened the blow by agreeing “that was your best landing today”.

Could’ve been worse, could’ve been the garden show. Still at least we stuffed the Aussies at Rugby and saw off the American Part Timers at cheeseball eh?

* for younger readers of the Hedgehog, Ivan “The Count” Lendl was a tennis player of some renown although much of his success was directly linked to a physical manifestation of Vlad himself. Opponents would regularly find themselves exciting eviscerated during changovers.

** Or if honestly was taking minutes, it would read “checked weather forecast, surely no one will risk holding an outdoor festival with a 10mph knob on Northerly with the prospect of stonking thermals later“. That’s the problem with honestly, it ruthlessly outs my inner geek.