I haven’t had the time to write about individual commutes this week. The only thing that got me on the bike was the 6000km end of year goal because it certainly wasn’t the weather.
Wednesday saw an early visit of winter. I set out in 2°C on a beautiful clear morning. The sun was set to rise and covered the fields in it’s orange glow. My shins complained but there was no way that I was getting the tights out this early on. The core was just right with the new base layer, fleeced top and jacket and the digits happy with my winter glove choice. I got to work to find the heating in the male changing room off so had a luxurious, long hot shower before a quick change. I raised a call to ask for the heating to be looked at only to be told that it had been disabled due to “health and safety” reasons.
I left later than planned in the nearly dark and took the short route that I call the “Sheering suicide”. Sheering is aI village between Harlow and Hatfield Heath. The road can be a busy one at rush hour with impatient people more important than me making risky passes on road bends at speed to get from A to B. But at 6pm, my educated guess was that traffic would be lighter and statistically less dangerous, especially so as a couple of dolts heading that way had close passed me before I got to the road itself. All was well until I got gassed by a boy racer in his loud souped up Renault Clio. I am old because I don’t get why driving a car like that with mag wheels and loud exhaust is ever so cool…or epic…or sick.
My ride from the supermarket was not what it should have been. I was grumpy and sad owing to disrespectful teenage behaviour, partly brought on by my impatience to get out and on with things instead of dealing with crap at the last minute when they had most of the morning to check pockets, timetables and pack their bags.
I rode along muddy paths, splashed in puddles feeling like a parental failure. Does my communication with them or my parenting style precipitate disrespect? Am I a push over? Or is it just typical moody teenage rebelliousness that will pass? Onwards I plodded with the cold NW wind at my back, fuelling my affect under the grey spitting autumn sky, blissfully unaware that this was ride #300 of the year.
I decided to hit the female shower room. The girls are fair weather, they would not be braving the cold today and I was right. It was cosy. No health and safety concerns in there. Apart from that, work did not lighten me up, finishing later than wanted due to an idle colleague, leaving in 3 weeks. Demob happy. Happy for others to pick up the consequences of his lack of standards.
Into the very dark and night time, I went the quickest route on the busy roads after coming off the river path. Ruminating the value of going longer or keeping my powder dry for another bike commute in the morning. I didn’t mind the shiny metal boxes shaving my right leg with close passes nearly as much as I should have in the drizzly night.
The forecast had changed from showers to dry and mild. It was only a short winter visit on the previous 2 days. I knew this the night before and prepared 2 layers on top and freed my fingers from the clunky winter gloves, re-acquainting them with the lighter, gel padded fingerless version. The price paid for the mild was a slight headwind but the going was OK. It was great to be out stretching tired legs, powered by coffee, splashing through growing puddles. Looking forward to more.
Sneaking away after an unremarkable day to make the most of fading light, I decided on a country back route to avoid early rush hour. The bridleways were thick with churned mud from tractor and truck traffic collecting harvested beet. The splatter painted my body and watery mud ground my aging cassette as I ploughed through the quagmire.
Waiting for a lift to the sugar factory
Back on the road was smoother, cleaner, faster. The beer shop was calling. The single lanes were busy with cars using them to bypass to main routes home. My roads are being taken over by b@$Ta®D cars! I wouldn’t mind sharing if they were courteous but not many seem to get the sharing part. It seemed that every driver today neither saw me nor cared that I was there.
Depressing to feel that my choice is mud or near death. But it isn’t doom or gloom and that feeling didn’t last long. 303 bike rides so far this year at around an average 10 miles a time means that I am 109% committed to riding a bike so far this year.