Until today, I hadn’t been out on the bike for a couple of weeks. After a colleague at work tested positive for the dreaded C word, I was required to self isolate for 14 days. No leaving the house, no errands, no dog walking, no bike commutes, no life. The shambolic Track and Trace system sent texts out to me to self isolate to protect the NHS and save lives. However there is no tracking to police those who should be isolating but don’t. Our “world beating” system has been overwhelmed and cannot cope with the sheer volume of cases in the UK. Instead they rely on good old fashioned “Blitz spirit”, that altruism will prevail and people will do the right thing. If they can afford not to work that is…
So while I could have gone out I did the right thing and stayed at home. Mostly. I was due to have a week’s annual leave but managed to reclaim that as, due to the whole department being off as well, we all had to pull together to mitigate our absence and work from home. I used the rest of my time doing some of the house moving jobs that I had set myself. Only 3 doors along and being empty, I was relatively safe to clear out the garden, move stuff across from the shed and put up some shelves. But I really missed going further than the end of the road to take the bins out for collection. Except I may or may not have gone for a naughty early morning spin up and down the road to “test my eyesight”.
That’s when I think that my spectacles may or may not have fell out of the pocket of my hoodie. I can’t explain this to anyone in my family. To do so would risk shame, hypocrisy and set a poor example, even if the risk of transmission was mathematically remote. Mrs B2W also had a contact from work at the same time so we were both under house arrest. Having to rely on the laziest person in the house to cycle up to the shop to get necessary’s and walk the dog was the biggest headache. His more helpful older sibling who has a broken foot was out of the equation.
As well as house moving chores I even submitted my coursework 6 hours before the deadline. I got lots of sleep and did lots of course related reading done so it wasn’t all bad but without my physical release of a daily ride things were pretty mundane. While my minde looked forward to commuting to work on my bike on my escape from isolation hell, I could not rediscover my previous joy of riding. The thick, cold fog and the likelihood of a late finish put paid to any glorious return on Thursday. It was also the same day as the start of the national month long lock down so driving the route instead of riding, while BORING and unexciting, at least gave me respite from 2 frigid mornings. I also avoided the back ache from humping an accumulated 6 books from the library to return.
My loss of 2 wheel love was in part countered by reading and watching videos about bike packing around the King Alfred’s Way, a new 350km circular ride but it didn’t inject any motivation to get going again. And then while catching up on reading in the warmth of some afternoon sun in my armchair, I was reminded of the Coffeeneuring challenge. I’ve tried this before but never completed it. Maybe 2020 was the year to finish although I may have started too late to get all the rides in.
So after a pressure check I pumped air into some tyres and climbed onto Doris. I slowly ambled up the road which may or may not have been my route during isolation. I scanned the road and bushes to my left for a pair of glasses, mindful that my new pairs where a week away. I then stopped at the shop to see if anyone may have handed a sad, lonely pair of specs in. Nope, I would have to do with my emergency pair. Broken frame, scratched lenses and wonky hinges from being stood on after falling off my head, these are my lifeline for another week.
I went further to Tesco Express to collect some oats for brekkie and spurned the machine coffee for some IPA. This I believe counts as an acceotable alternative for the challenge. As it had been dry for a week or so, I headed for the Flitch to look for a spot to drink it, hoping that the trail wasn’t too muddy for the Marathon Plus commuting tyres. This lock down is not like the first with a number of new rules added to confuse the population (or enable willful misinterpretation). What hasn’t changed is encouraging us all to get out into the fresh air and exercise.
Being a mild autumn day, the masses were out taking full advantage of the sunshine and country air. There was plenty of bell ringing and slowing as I weaved my way, searching for a quiet spot to sup my ale. What mud there was on the trail was that plasticeine texture that doesn’t grip or splatter and I eventually traversed up a public foot path to escape the day trippers to a haven of some IPA solitude.
After collecting evidence of my journey (above) I reflected. The day was bright and mild. It was a good one to reboot. I looked at my stats. With 4450 miles so far this year, I could race to 5000 but I couldn’t see myself enjoying it in November/December. Cold and moving house will see to that and don’t want to end up hating riding all because of an obsession to reach a target. That’s what I will do, just ride and see where it takes me. There’s always 2021…
Date: 7th November
Where I went: Farm field (coffeshop without walls)
Beverage: Vocation Life & Death IPA