More Slow Bicycling

I keep thinking I should do a video or timelapse of my ride down to Papershop Village, like all the cool cyclists do, but I don’t really have the technology. So here are some mental pictures for you instead:

Not actually raining. Cold enough for a jacket, cap, gloves. Scary yellow jacket in bag. Bag on back, Bike out of the shed

Out the gate, round the corner, up the first hill. Always hate the first hill.

First squashed animal of the day – hedgehog. Looks just like a cartoon squashed hedgehog, round, with its four legs sticking out. Sometimes they’ve sort of squirted their guts out the back like a tube of toothpaste (hey, I didn’t say they’d all be nice mental pictures…)

Through nearest village. Who builds a village on the side of a hill? Non-cyclists, that’s who.

Three pied wagtails bobbing about on the road. At least they’ve got the nous to fly away.

Aargh. Verge cutting. Verge cutting tractor pulls over to let me past. I’m always worried they’ll just lift up their big lawnmower-onna-stick thing and expect me to cycle under it. Far more dangerous than ladders. Squeeze through and away with a grateful lift of the hand.

Landrover overtakes me slowly and courteously and carefully. Do they count as four-by-fours?

Large flock of rooks and wood pigeons rise up from the harvested field and wheel away

Sheep running away. Sheep are very stupid. Cat not running away, but standing in the middle of the road looking at me. Not sure if this is typical cat arrogance or sign that cats, also, are very stupid.

Through the farmyard where the tied up dog tells me that he hates me. A lot. One of these days he’s not going to be tied up…

Too hot for gloves. Take them off.

Two bullocks stare at me through a gate and then run away. I am obviously the most terrifying thing on two wheels around here.

Sheep lying down. Doesn’t that meant it’s going to rain? Or is that cows? Of course, round here, just being a sheep is a sign that it’s going to rain. It’s always going to rain…

Another grass cutting sign. Grass is clearly growing faster round here than one man can cut it.

Still not raining. Now too hot for jacket, but don’t want to stop.

Second verge-cutting tractor, in worst possible place, half way up the steepest hill. Going even more slowly than me. Together we reach the top of the hill and I stop to avoid riding in his exhaust. He stops too and gives me an encouraging wave. What? He is completely blocking the road. He wants me to go past on his right but there’s a ditch there. He’s waiting for me to pass. I get off and squeeeeeeze past with the bike wheel in the ditch. I knew there was a reason I hung on to my hybrid.

Give ditch guy the benefit of the doubt and give him a grateful wave.

Past the broken-down cottage I want to buy and rescue and live in forever (other half not so keen)

Up and round the last serious hill, praying I don’t meet a third verge-cutting tractor

Still going up the last serious hill

Still going up the last serious hill… no tractors.

Thwap! Headbutted by large insect, possibly bee. Perhaps that’s why all the bees have disappeared, I have inadvertently eaten or run into them all. Sorry about that.

Final run into village. Cows lying down now. Definitely going to rain, but then we knew that. Wonder whether cows round here lose the use of their legs from all the lying down they have to do.

Pffft! Insect in mouth. Argh, spit, cough, splutter. Don’t think I swallowed it. Don’t think it was a bee.

Papershop Village… buy my paper, forget my change, make merry banter with papershop bloke, escape back out to bike. In a fit of foolish optimism, take off jacket.

I can see my shadow! Does that mean we get another month of winter? Oh no, wait, it’s summer…

Mud on road. The farmers don’t put up those signs round here. They probably reckon that we can see the mud, which is true. Perhaps more helpful would be a sign saying ‘road under mud’, because sometimes you wonder.

Cows on the left lying down, cows on the right standing up. Cows are either incredibly precise or pretty rubbish forecasters. Also all pointing in different directions, so rubbish compasses as well.

First hill. Always steeper than I remember it. Second hill. Change down the gears, around the corner, down the hill, picking up speed.

Right at the bottom, it’s ditch guy. I squeeze past on the other verge, deep in the mud. No sooner am I past than a lorry comes round the bend. Both he and ditch guy are exactly as wide as the road. Back on the verge for me, glad to be on the bike, squeeze past the lorry and away. He keeps on coming, ditch guy keeps on coming. I wonder which one of them will back down first.

Great tits flitting about in the hedgerow. Blackbird. Flock of sparrows. Dead frog. Or toad. Probably frog.

Inhale something. Definitely insects, plural. Ack.

Back through the farm yard where the dog hates my guts. He still hates me. He tells me at length.

This is the best bit: smooth road, lovely swooping curves, gently downhill. One day I’ll meet a car…

To my right a fence and on top of each fencepost, a rook, all facing the same way. They look as though they’re waiting for the start of a battle.

Nearest village appears on the horizon. Check my watch. If I get home in eight minutes I’ll be on course for a decent time. Not *ahem* that I care about these things. But you know…

Through the village, last turn, under the canopy of the trees. Zig-zag sign on the road – they’re not kidding. Car on the bridge. There’s always a car on the bridge. Brake to go past slowly, never quite sure if they’ve seen me. Raise a hand as I pass but they give me the dead-fish stare. Londoners…

This bit is definitely a double-ramped hill. Uphill both ways.

Cottage-that-sells-eggs. House with scary dog (quietly growling rather than barking is so much more menacing) Squashed hedgehog. Nearly home.

Last hill. Aargh. There is no way up this hill without getting out of the saddle. Still, better than getting off the bike.

And home. One hour. Not bad. Not, you know, that I was trying, or anything…

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21 Responses to More Slow Bicycling

  1. kimbofo says:

    Makes my London commute on the back of a bicycle seem a doddle by comparison!!

  2. disgruntled says:

    Having done both, I wouldn’t swap it for the London one for the world…

  3. Flighty says:

    Although your journey is vividly described a few photos to illustrate it would be nice!
    Have a good weekend! xx

  4. I’m not so sure about the photos or a video. it seemed pretty real to me!

  5. disgruntled says:

    I will try and get some photos (video is definitely beyond me) one of these days & we can see how it compares…

  6. Dom says:

    I don’t do newspapers, however, my journey for news goes thusly: Head out of room I’m currently in and into the corridor. Navigate to the spare room/office. Past the door held open with the Cushtie and fake Cushtie. Sharp right, grasp chair with left hand, spin so it’s in a position where I can sit in it. Sit, rotate chair, wiggle mouse. Select Google Reader, select news feed. No hills, 240 times faster than your trip :D

  7. justwilliams says:

    Great writing. Photos would NOT improve on this. More please. I am still chuckling at the thought of those cows losing the use of their legs. Brilliant.

  8. 2whls3spds says:

    I had forgotten the Hedgehogs…England’s answer to the US opossum or the “battle possums”

    I would qualify a LandRover as a fourwheel drive, perhaps a bit more civilized than the 4×4 monster trucks that frequent the US roadways.

    Aaron

  9. disgruntled says:

    Dom – ah but what’s your carbon footprint for that?
    JustWilliams – thanks
    2whls – I wish someone would armour hedgehogs… thousands of years of evolution undone by the invention of the car…

  10. Dom says:

    About to get a lot bigger when the new computer arrives :)

  11. R :: B says:

    A(n) highly evocative piece of scribing! Scotland would be great for cycling if we could only iron out the bumps and creases. I reckon a series of tugboats all tied to the coastline, facing out to sea and simultaneously running at full steam might just do it! Roadside ski-tows might be a slightly less ridiculous option.

    Your bee in the face reminded me of a wasp I once had inside my helmet when I used to ride my Vespa to work. Poetic justice, I know! I helped wake me up! Opening the visor all the way just caused the wind to drive it further around the helmet padding and towards my ear. The nice thing about riding a motorcycle is that the noise of the engine tends to drown out the screaming. I think I parked somewhat rapidly. I wish someone had video’d that episode.

  12. disgruntled says:

    hehe – I shouldn’t laugh about the wasp though, it could have been nasty. Scotland without hills … is there any part of Scotland that isn’t hilly?
    Dom – for shame. Get a laptop, much better for the planet.

  13. Dom says:

    Got one, need bigger monitors :)

    Dunno if this is on national telly or not but TFL (at least I assume it’s them) appear to be running a TV campaign encouraging people to cycle rather than drive (because the roads are blocked) or take public transport (because it doesn’t work). There’s this lovely idea that the UK is just riddled with nice, friendly cycle paths and you can hop on your bike and a few minutes later be where you need to be. The reality will probably terrify some people :D

  14. psychosplodge says:

    i think i once saw some kind of headstrap video cam for you extreme sports types in argos near the bikes…

  15. disgruntled says:

    Since when has going to get the paper been an extreme sport? I don’t think I want to be seen in the village with a head camera on …
    Dom – sounds like the campaign they had last year. Still, the more people do get on their bikes, the nearer the truth it will be…

  16. wakeupscared says:

    A great description; I felt like I was riding with you. A picture may say a thousand words, but the photographs of our imagination give us so much more.

  17. psychosplodge says:

    cycling and hills seems far too energetic to me….

  18. Cycledad says:

    Hi I just found your blog from http://bikingbrits.blogspot.com . Love it! Great subject matter! i’ll be following this one. Ever so jealous with the Scotland move, but rural essex provided some similar challenges when i left Reading. After two years of struggling up and down my local hills with a normal bike and basically driving a lot lot more, the electric bike i was waiting for was released. You really , really , really , really need one.

    I just blogged on how i’ve now stopped using the car.

    Heres a post on the bike: http://cycledad.blogspot.com/2008/05/this-bike-is-miracle.html

  19. disgruntled says:

    Tempting … does it come with an anti-rain roof as well?

  20. [...] Now, with Pictures Some time ago, I attempted to give a flavour of my ride to the papershop & back in words, having not mastered [...]

  21. Elizabeth says:

    This is great! Let me know if you’d like to link exchange!

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