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…