A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I were cycling in the Forest of Dean when my chain broke. We weren’t carrying any of the right tools, and he had to suffer the indignity of standing by, while I flagged down a passing young man and allowed him to fix my bike for me. The very next day, Dave went out and bought a chain tool, and every possible form of quick link, lest such a thing should ever happen again.
That very weekend, he was biking with mates, and someone’s chain snapped. He was delighted to save the day with his armoury of quick links and the knowhow gained from our previous misfortune. Pride was restored. A godsend!
But then imagine, simply imagine, my delight, when today I was biking with a different male friend and his chain snapped, and I had the right kit in my bag for the job! Here I am, affixing the new link to the old chain, in insufferably smug fashion!
The oddest thing is, I have never known a chain to break among any of my cycling acquaintance in the last 10 years! All the people I ever bike with are now signed up to a maintenance course in May!
It is often hard to galvanise myself to go out biking even during the day. Even though I know I will like it! But somehow the temptation to sit on my arse always has a greater pull. And that is doubly the case, when I am already in my pyjamas, it is 9.30pm, and cold and dark outside.
So I am particularly pleased a) that I gathered myself to do it, and b) that it was marvellous! It was quite liberating to be out, alone, in the dark, cycling by torchlight along the paths round the lakes. Visibility was reduced to where the torch was pointing, so it wasn’t exactly scenic, but kind of dramatic in a different way. The sounds were more noticeable. The bird calls, and the sound of swans wings flapping as they entered the water in flight. The moonlight sparkling across the lake surface was lovely. The feel of the breeze and the night air perked me up no end. It confirmed my suspicion that I spend far too much time indoors. There is no need to think a day is over just because the sun has set. I must do this more often!
The whole point, when this went on the list, was that I have been meaning to affix proper lights to my bike for about 3 years. I have never quite got round to it, and hence can only cycle in the daytime. And tediously, I still haven’t got round to it, but I’ve managed to tick it off the list by borrowing a powerful head torch and compromising on safety (don’t try this at home children..).
But now I am even more motivated to sort the bike lights, because it was great! Excellent.
We had a delicious day in pursuit of this objective. Dave took a day off and we went to the Forest of Dean while the kids were at school, for biking fun together. A rare treat!
I love cycling, but have never quite got into the mindset of proper mountain biking; now we are trying to change that! I’m trying to see all the roots and rocks as a fun challenge, rather than a tedious impediment to an otherwise enjoyable ride!
So, I attempted a red route for the first time, which really should have been the challenge, as the ride overall was harder than the couple of jumps that I did attempt. Uphill and downhill, single track sections, berms and rocks and roots and ditches and all sorts. I did a lot less pushing the bike and a lot less cursing than is normally the case!
The jumps were singularly unimpressive. I promise I did try several, and many were bigger than this, but sadly this is the only footage that was captured. It is quite splendidly rubbish! Indeed you will struggle to see me leave the ground at all. I blame the cameraman, as I am sure it was far more impressive in reality.
I’m afraid that is as good as it is likely to get before May 10th!
But Dave assures me that in general I am getting better. And most importantly, it was fun, which means I will go again, so that is a triumph, albeit of a (very) modest sort.
This was immensely tedious and fairly difficult, but ultimately a triumph for women’s lib. One of the perils of married life is that this kind of task just never falls into my remit these days. And I get anxious about losing the ability to do stuff like this for myself. So, cue a very tedious morning messing about with keys and fittings and what not, taking an hour to accomplish something Dave can do in 5 minutes. I have no instinct at all for stuff like this, I can only figure it out by doing it wrong, then doing it differently, and only slightly less wrong, then eventually on about the 6th attempt getting it vaguely right. But I did it, and now I know how to do it again. So hurrah.
Then there was the lifting of the bikes onto the car. I can just about manage it, though it is far from comfortable, balancing inside the doorway of the back seats, mountain bike wielded aloft, and try to keep it steady to line up with the rack. Then keep it still with one hand while securing all the straps and locks. But again, it was done without injury, or misadventure to the bike. Et voila:
Getting them off again is harder – undo all straps, hold onto bike and somehow leap backwards out of the car, holding bike aloft, without allowing any part of bike or pedals to scratch car paintwork. It was just about done, but it is unlikely to be mishap-free every time!
But it is good that I can do it. It makes it far more possible to sneak in an adventure during school hours.