I’m a bit of a Thomas Hardy fan so as I stood today under a dripping greenwood tree, far from the madding crowd as the rain lashed down in a downpour worthy of Egdon Heath at its worst I found myself contemplating as many a Hardy heroine or indeed hero… How did I get here, what am I doing and more to the point where am I going? Well knew where I had to end up on this my first proper solo ride and that it required a few simple skills – stay on the bike, find the canal, find the correct route, get up a few hills – have coffee and come home. So not hard then….
Clearly everyone else had checked the weather forecast and there was a distinct lack of traffic, pedestrian, canine or two-wheeled on the cycle path through the woods. So when the heavens opened and I was blinded by the lashing rain I stood rather miserably and alone under said dripping greenwood tree. There in the absence of a dashing Seargent Troy, a miserable and obscure Jude or even a solid and reliable Gabriel Oak to offer assistance and cheer me on my way it dawned on me that this cycling malarkey is really about your self , your own goals and attainment and how far you are prepared to push for them.
I knew I needed to complete this task for two reasons – one to keep up the cycling momentum in training for Cycletta but more pressingly the need to burn calories to make up for the rather lovely Pinot Grigio consumed the evening before with a delicious monkfish in curried mussel sauce (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – his recipe – not personally cooked by him). This latter reason being a major spur to avoid a torrent of tears on the scales at Fat Club this week.
With these goals in mind I waited for a gap in the deluge and set off again in search of the elusive canal path – which surprisingly was lurking quietly behind a group of trees. The same group of trees I had turned back at a few days ago on a previous search. It is a good job then that I was never entrusted with leading an exploration of discovery, Victoria Falls, the source of the Nile could even now be unknown to us as I would have been the one to say ‘thats enough for now lad its clearly not here – lets pop back home for tea’ ignoring the fact that the holy grail was just round the next corner. Elated by this discovery the rest of the trip passed in a blur of tow path, a slight wrong turn and the realisation that the main street of my friends town is almost completely uphill meaning that I arrived triumphant, flushed and gasping for breath not unlike Tess when she first spotted the (rather in my opinion soppy) Angel Clare.
Oh but the joy of the ride home as the sun shone and the the track led (mostly) downhill. Even the hilly bits seemed easier and I reached home in half the time of the outward journey, proof if anything that the harder you try the better you get.