…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
It has been over a couple of months since I’ve cycled over 40 miles in one day, and even that was for work. Today, being Sunday, I went out ‘just for the sake of it’. Actually I had two day’s worth of 20 miles to get on top of, since I did no miles yesterday… which was the first day of my “I will cycle 20 miles a day until the end of the year” challenge.
Really the weather has been pretty bad recently, virtually rain most days for a month, if not two, and days and days of 50mph+ winds – hardly weather to really enjoy going out in, but perhaps that’s more the fault of a mindset rather than weather, which after all, is just being weather.
Actually this morning I put on my running shoes to make a step forward on my “run two miles a day challenge” (which I’m already behind on too) but I stepped back inside when I felt spots of rain. However, after pacing round my house for a few minutes I managed to drum up the motivation to go back out – and I did – and it wasn’t so bad, just a few light spots of rain. I then had breakfast, donned my waterproofs and went back out, this time on my bike.
It rained the whole way, not particularly heavily, and this didn’t really bother me – I just keep pedalling. I was warm enough too, at first, considering it was only some 7 degrees Celsius out, even when my coat sleeves started letting the water through, as they do (I chose to wear my spare coat and trainers which aren’t the best, since I wanted to keep my better ones dry for work the next day).
I admired the countryside, in particular some outcrops of rock which caught my attention, even though I’m quite familiar with their presence, having lived and cycled round here for over ten years. I saw ponies hiding from the rain, as best they could, behind a stone wall, but most sadly, I came across a dead cat. This is not an unfamiliar sight, but always saddens me. I like cats. After a little hesitation I slowed down and doubled-back and lifted his cold, wet, and rigamortised body out of the road – should his owners find him I’m sure they’ll appreciate him not encountering any more collisions, especially if there are children in his family – other than being dead and the pain of his fate expressioned on his face, he looked unharmed, a beautiful grey and white cat even. “Sorry mate” I spoke to him (and repeat now with tears in my eyes from this moment we shared).
I continued on my way. Once I passed the 30 mile mark though, with my fingerless gloves thoroughly soaked through from the persistent rain, my fingers began to feel cold. I plodded on.
I was thankful my hands don’t cramp up like my feet do if they get cold (although rarely have they done this when cycling). But by “not cramp up” this didn’t mean they weren’t seizing up. They got colder and stiffer, and painful too, and I resorted to putting each hand in turn under my coat to try and get a little warmth into them, since changing gear was becoming more and more of a challenge – I was thankful I had no heavy breaking to do. I considered pedalling faster to get home quicker, but I figured it would make little difference.
I made it home and got off my bike with the chain still on the big chain ring – I always like to park up at home with it on the middle one, but I just couldn’t change gear – I didn’t bother trying.
I fumbled in my soggy coat pocket for my door key and let myself in.
The next things I did are all routine things but they each felt like blessings at this point, but also a challenge because I couldn’t hold anything right: I boiled my kettle to make myself a cup of coffee, I put my boiler on to provide me with hot water for a shower (something I was exceedingly thankful for only a week ago when I was without water), and I put a frying pan on the stove to make myself some sausage, egg and wild mushroom sandwiches – all of this was achieved with hands still cold and stiff. As far as getting out of my cold wet clothes I managed to peel my gloves off; they ended up as inside-out balls of sogginess.
By this point I was feeling thankful that I actually have dry clothes to get into, I have hot water on tap, and I have shelter warm enough to dry my weathered clothes – even if it takes a day or two. I could now get warm and dry. I had passed what looked like a traveller’s camp, although when I looked twice I wasn’t sure if it was just a collection of derelict vehicles in a lay-by, some with a broken window or two; if they were being lived in I thought about the hard times those souls would be enduing – I had it pretty easy considering.
I made the coffee backwards, first pouring the hot water into the cup and then cupping the cup with my hands to let the heat permeate through. Once I could feel the cup getting too hot (one has to be careful with cold hands) I added the sugar and coffee, and then milk, and guzzled it down. The sandwiches were thrown together and scoffed down in an undignified manner. I was still wearing all my other rain-drenched and cold clothes at this point – kind of silly, but it was a challenge that lay ahead of me I knew.
Once I had finished stuffing my face, with yolk dripping out and butter round my mouth (it really was that undignified), my boiler duly clicked off to inform me it had got my hot water ready for my shower. I proceeded to peel off my clothes. First I attempted to get my high-visibility overcoat off over my helmet, which was a fail, and I back-tracked and took the helmet off first (with overcoat still stuck round it), I unzipped my coat, almost, since the zipper got stuck at the final inch, so I took that off over my head, then I wrenched my wet feet out of my sponge-inspired trainers and shuffled off to shower. Ahhh! Hot water on tap is a marvellous thing!
I was soothed through within minutes, my fingers flexible again and my spirit restored.
My brother came round later. He said I looked tired – I told him of my few hours out on my bike in the rain. I threw one of my wet cycling gloves at him to show how wet they got. It was a point well made! I agreed that getting cold and wet through is a draining ordeal – and he told me to be careful – I agreed I would wear my non-summer gloves the next time out.
You can read more of my December-Special To Do list [here].
You can read more about my recent experience with no water [here].