I had feared that one of the casualties of the current crisis might be Bigtownshire’s barter economy as the local Facebook bartering group shut down at the start of the pandemic although I suspect this may have been more to do with the admins wanting a break. I don’t think they realised when they started it that they would shortly be acting as the central bank of an alternative local economy with an emerging currency based on prosecco, fabric softener and wax melts (no, me either). Fortunately, the local village freecycle list is made of sterner stuff and last week I spotted an extending curtain pole on offer which was just what we needed for the spare room.
Naturally, this was a job for the bike. Six miles to pick up the curtain rail was no problem but I had also made plans to see a friend about a bike and – as is always the case when you can arrange for a couple of things to happen at any time on an otherwise free day – suddenly the only time that was mutually convenient to all meant I had to be in two different places in a fairly short time frame. Which is why yesterday saw me heading off on a 10-mile cross country cycle trip with a four-foot metal curtain rail bungied onto my cross bar, the traditional hi-vis vest dangling from the end in case anyone fancied tailgating me (fittingly, the rail will be used for the curtains that have also been taken on a nice bike tour of the surrounding countryside, and no, I haven’t hung them yet, don’t be ridiculous).
Fortunately, this involved one of my favourite routes
And on roads like these, there’s nobody to hear you rattle
Which is fortunate, because I was doing a lot of it.
It was only as I was heading home – and realising that the one time you don’t want a tailwind is when the heatwave finally, properly sets in and you’re sweating your way uphill – that I encountered any real traffic. I was wondering whether the presence of a four-foot pointy-ended pole would make any difference to drivers’ behaviour, and was a little disappointed that it didn’t appear to (Twitter’s suggestion to mount it sideways might have been more effective but possibly impractical on the narrower back roads …). After a tractor had passed me in a reasonable fashion, the five cars lined up behind it all overtook too, regardless of the approaching bend (and indeed an oncoming van). I then pulled out to discourage any further passes until the road straightened out and was a bit disappointed to hear something shouted by the driver of the lorry behind who, when he finally overtook me, then put his hazards on in what seemed to me a pointed manner.
Fortunately I didn’t rise to it because when I got home I realised that this wasn’t in fact road rage so much as an attempt to warn me that my load had come partially adrift and the hi-vis vest was threatening to get tangled in my spokes. So apologies, Mr Lorry Driver, for doubting your good will – and I’ll leave it to a certain corner of Bike Twitter to point out how this just confirms that you rely on hi-vis for your safety at your peril.