Sunday, 30 October 2016

Thick fog and no lights – the lunacy of dangerous riding continues!

Look, I'm not proud. In fact, it's all, well, a bit of an accident. My front light ran out of power and my rear light was on my old bike. The long and the short of it? I rode off in thick fog without any lights. I've really got to give myself a good talking to on so many levels, not least my sartorial elegance, which is non-existent, but also my penchant for dangerous and slapstick behaviour. Sorting out the former problem is easy: I just need to get myself some decent clothes and stop looking like somebody who has just left the armed forces or, worst still, somebody who has just been released from prison. I mean, I really must start looking a little more togged out – even when I'm on the bike. Everybody else on the ride looks neat and tidy. Andy's always reasonably well-turned-out and so is Phil, even if he does fancy a bit of Lycra here and there. Me? I look like The Outlaw Josey Wales with my unshaven face and my scruffy-looking attire: rusty coloured jacket, unshapen old jumper and leaky old trainers from Sports Direct. I need to up my game, put it that way.

Ignore my stupid look, I'm trying to look cool, but failing.
As for the slapstick behaviour, it seems that I'm always on the verge of courting disaster: taking a corner too fast and coming off, damaging my knee in the process and then spending the next few weeks hobbling around like some kind of hobo with dodgy joints. What the hell is going on?

And don't get me started on my hair cut. If it's not too short, like it is now, it's too long and straggly and untidy-looking. I can't win with my hair, but I prefer it really short – like a number three crop – because it's just tidier. The problem, of course, is that it looks a little thuggish and add to that my unfortunate sailor's saunter – my dad always told me not to lunge forward on my left leg, but I never listened – and things ain't looking good for yours truly. Have they ever?

You know what I hate most of all? Passing a mirror. It normally happens in shopping malls or clothes stores and I have to look away, scared, perhaps, that I won't like what I see. In fact I know I won't like what I'd see, because I've seen it. It's a bit like hearing the sound of your own voice. I can't stand the sound of mine, but it's my voice, what can I do about it other than put on a stupid voice, perhaps a squeaky, helium tone, like Joe Pasquale, or a snobby one, like Benedict Cucumber Patch. But these are all minor things to worry about in the scheme of things, although I do need to smarten up a little, both on and off the ride, and I need to make things a little safer. Lights that work would be a good start and perhaps something a little 'high viz' to increase my visibility.

On the way to the green to meet Andy, Phil explained how he too had taken a tumble. On Saturday, while out riding with Steve, he stopped suddenly, the bike swung round, like a gate, and having not disengaged from those Lycra monkey shoes that adhere the rider to the bike (get rid of them for a start, Phil) he keeled over and hit the tarmac, admittedly not with the speed and force that I came face-to-face with the road, but worrying nonetheless. Had it happened moments earlier, Phil explained, he would have been run over by a white van, not the most glamorous of exits. The thought of what might have been made him feel sick and I know what he means. I've had situations in the past, one involving stupidity with cars, when I might not have made it, but miraculously I emerged unscathed bar a cut lip and a visit to Derriford Hospital to get checked out. I won't explain any more about it, but suffice it to say that I spent a week or more wondering about what might have been, but not in a good way as there was only one other kind of outcome. "Ain't nobody can fly a car like Hooper!"

Rockhopper Sport 29 at Tatsfield village
We rode to Tatsfield Village and the fog never let up. From the moment I left the house until the moment I returned home there was fog, at times incredibly thick. We opted for the slow way and once again the Rockhopper proved to be a great bike on all those long, slow hill climbs. I rode sensibly into the village, although I did demonstrate (in slow motion) exactly what I was doing when I came off – for Phil's benefit. I still wince at the memory of that fateful day.

The most amazing part of today's ride, however, was Phil bringing along three enormous slabs of his wedding cake from the summer. Apparently, all the leftover cake – there was a fair amount – went straight into the freezer and he only defrosted it this weekend. But when I say 'slabs' I'm not exaggerating. None of us finished them, although I did better than most (and have felt ashamed of myself all day, especially when I went round mum's and helped myself to two slices of Christmas cake).

When we left Tatsfield we all felt slightly heavier than when we arrived. Not good when you consider that we go riding to keep ourselves trim and fit, but instead, there we were stuffing our faces with a rich chocolate cake and all before 0800hrs. But what a cake! Hats off to Phil for bringing it along. I must, however, make a conscious effort this week to steer clear of anything sweet, like cookies or chocolates.

We rode home off-road along the 269 as the road and the fog proved miles to dangerous and parted company as usual at the Green.

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