Today was a three-glove day (technically a three-pairs-of-gloves day but it doesn’t quite trip off the tongue) – having got the first pair soaked cycling into Bigtown for a family ride that, unsurprisingly, didn’t materialise in the sheeting rain, and then my second pair damp cycling back again after lunch in the by now just drizzling rain, come 5pm I had to dig out a third pair to head fifteen miles across country to be the guest speaker at a political meeting.
On the whole, it’s hard to argue that on a journey of 15 miles, the bike is a practical alternative to the car for anyone, especially when the route involves the Col du Doctor’s Surgery followed by a road which our former neighbour used to like cycling up pulling a laden trailer as training for his planned ride across Canada. Not only did it take me an hour and a half to get there, but I had to allow an extra half hour to cool off on arrival. But the alternative was either cadging a lift or cycling eight miles to Bigtown to get a bus – and besides it seemed appropriate if I was to talk about cycling and the region that I should come on a bike.*
Fortunately, the weather gods had called a short truce, and after a couple of showers to show willing during the first few miles, the clouds parted and the evening sun came out to light my way. With only a few wrong turns, I was able to navigate a route that kept me off the A-roads and avoided the very worst of the gradient, although that still meant a few short leg-and-lung bursting climbs along the way. All the better to enjoy the views…
I was reminded that not only do we live in the (alleged) birthplace of the pedal cycle, but we also are surrounded by some of the best cycling country there is in the UK, if you know where to look.
Keir Mill, home of Kirkpatrick Macmillan, inventor of the (or possibly a) pedal cycle and alleged scofflaw cyclist. Oh and who thought twinning a village around here with ‘le Deluge’ was a good idea?
And the meeting? Well it wasn’t exactly packed, but the handful who showed up seemed reasonably appreciative of my talk, I only had to handle one question about pavement cyclists, and they were gratifyingly astounded that I had cycled all the way. Had I driven, or had to take the bus, I might have thought it a waste of an evening, much as I like talking to anyone about bikes. As it was, it felt like a glorious bike ride, with a small meeting attached, and thus a splendid way to spend a few hours.
And then I called up the other half and got a lift home. There are limits to my insanity, and besides it had started raining again.
* Quite apart from anything else, I still vividly remember from my teenage years some poor hapless speaker from Friends of the Earth being ripped apart by a bunch of self-righteous sixth formers over the fact that he had driven to the school to deliver his talk – never mind the fact that most of us were driven everywhere most of the time…