Hissing Down

May 16, 2011

OK it has now been raining ALL day, despite the Met office site confidently stating that it wouldn’t rain and persistently denying that it had rained, and despite Raintoday also agreeing that it wasn’t raining and hadn’t rained and never would rain when patently, looking out of the window, it was doing nothing but rain. This was especially annoying because I had been spending the time while waiting for it to stop raining reading up about the scientifically proven benefits of cycling (did you know, for instance, that regular cycling, quite apart from making you thinner, healthier, less depressed and 40% less likely to die,* can basically take up to 10 years off your actual age in fitness terms?**) and it was making me want to get out on my bike. I’d arranged to go out for the paper in the morning with a friend but cancelled that and then I spent most of lunchtime staring out the window trying to convince myself that it was easing up a bit. Finally, at around 2:30 it paused for breath and I dashed out, not so much thinking that the rain had stopped as knowing that it was my best chance to fool myself that it would be all right.

I’m slowly, slowly, getting better about cycling – or rather setting off – in the rain. The everything-bar-the-apocalypse-proof jacket helps, and has proved to be entirely waterproof and breathable although that doesn’t help with my bottom half. And I can’t say yet that I actually enjoy it in any meaningful sense of the word. But mainly I have been managing to just grit my teeth and concentrate on my own personal entirely unscientific and supported-only-by-anecdotal-evidence belief that regular drenchings on the bike, preferably accompanied by a chill wind, are what keeps the old immune system going. All the periods of my life when I’ve been cycling regularly, through wind and rain and fog and hail (including sitting around in soaking wet things for hours afterwards) I’ve had almost no colds and never had to take a day off work, whereas at other times I’ve been as sickly as the next person. It goes against everything your granny’s ever told you but that’s what I’ve found. And after this afternoon’s ride, I’ll either have topped up my immune system for another few weeks, or I’m due a nasty bout of hubris-induced double pneumonia. Only time will tell.

* In the short term. Obviously in the long run the probability of dying is 100%; cycling’s good for you but it’s not that good…

**Of course that’s according to Cycling England and cycling didn’t do very much for its longevity did it? No amount of cycling-related fitness will save you if you get hit by a truck marked ‘we simply can’t afford it’. Coalition bastids. But that’s a rant for another day



May 15, 2011

Today was the village plant sale – one of the red letter days in the Nearest Village calendar – and I was determined this year to bring more than just empty seed trays to the party. For the last few weeks I’ve been carefully pricking out and tending my surplus veg seedlings and so had three trays full to take down to add as my offering before the plague of locusts, sorry, keen gardeners descended.

The problem was getting them there. One would have been easy, two I might have managed to squeeze side-by-side onto my back rack, but three required a bit of lateral thinking. They didn’t weigh much but seedlings are quite delicate and it was hard to think of a way to avoid crushing them, let alone solve the problem of how to fix them to the bike. In the end, a plastic basket made an improvised container and egg boxes provided a suitable stacking mechanism. After all, you don’t get much more delicate than an egg, do you?

It all felt a bit precarious and I haven’t cycled that gingerly since I last had to get to work with a bottle of champagne in my backpack, but I made it down there with the seedlings uncrushed and I think they enjoyed the outing. The main problem was actually getting myself on and off the bike – without a step-through frame, and with it being a good 30 years since my last ballet lesson, I had to tip the bike over at a precarious angle before I could get my leg over. When I arrived at the village hall I had to ask the organisers to unload my bike before I attempted to dismount. Ladylike it wasn’t.

Still, at least it gave me plenty of room to haul my own booty back. Now all we need is some sunshine…