Riding down for the paper today on a picture-perfect late spring morning, I was just approaching the farm whose yard straddles the road. One of the farm workers had just left his quad bike and trailer skewed across the road and as I approached he hopped off and opened one of the field gates, ushering me into it.
Not sure if this was some sort of rural joke I asked him what was going on.
‘You’d be better off in there,’ he said. ‘There’s a bull coming down the road.’ After a quick nervous glance over my shoulder I was reassured that the bull wasn’t out and rampaging after cyclists but being moved in a semi-controlled fashion, but I decided he was right and the field was probably the safest place to be – perhaps only fitting, given I’d spent all of Friday ushering lambs safely back into their fields. I left him arranging an impromptu course of hurdles and tractor bits to try and encourage the bull into the other half of the farm yard and watched from the safety of my field as the bull came down the road accompanied by a smallish man (well, next to the bull, anyway) armed only with a short length of hosepipe.
The bull didn’t have anything like a headcollar on, let alone a ring through its nose, and it looked about as pissed off as you would look if a small man in overalls was whacking you regularly on the bum with a length of hosepipe.* Had it wanted to it could have taken off, obstacles or no obstacles, and there’s nothing they would have been able to do to stop it, but it seemed to have decided to co-operate and bull, farm workers and hosepipes disappeared into the other yard with only a modicum of bellowing and I went on my way only slightly delayed by the adventure.
Spring – or possibly summer, you never know when it’s going to be except once it’s over – arrived with a vengeance yesterday and the other half and I had had a perfect ride over 28 rolling miles on tiny roads, stopping only for a bacon roll and a basket of chips at a pub and seeing barely any motorised traffic for the whole day. It was a salutary reminder that – at least when the sun comes out – we live in an absolutely glorious part of the world and enjoy probably the best cycling conditions of anywhere in the UK. Quite apart from any other consideration, I know that when it comes to traffic hazards, I’d far rather deal with stroppy bulls than stroppy drivers. Although I still contend that, when dealing with heavy livestock as well as HGVs, decent segregated infrastructure – such as a field – is pretty much essential.
*I mean, unless that’s your thing