Hardly a weekend has passed in the last five years when Iâ€™ve not cheerfully abandoned my family to seek a â€“ frankly pervy – sweaty and muddy outdoors experience with a lycra clad flange of middle aged blokes.
Somewhere in this period, I carelessly crossed the line between a hobby and a mental illness which opened up a black hole, into which I willingly plunged money, blood, time and a few post crash whimpers.
So an unbroken run of eight weekends without trailering a bike and heading off to fill a couple of circular hours before the pubs opened, grooved an ominous record which suggested DIY and bigger trousers lie in wait.
Better go riding then because the option was a continuing approach to life based on the â€œgrumpy bastard” scenario, which offered much misery and probable rolling pin based injuries in the near future.
Traditionally, I don’t ride in the Chilterns much between November and March because the entire area is twinned with Flanders. Yesterday, I lost first my sunglasses and then most of my gears as we slogged through never ending mud and slime for three and a half painful hours. Uphill was a trudge for traction, the flat sections were a constant battle against deep trenches full of slime and the downhills were either pedally boredom or a terrifying plunge through a mud slick with no obvious methods of steering or braking. Options at this point involved instantly falling off in a comedy heap or surfing towards spikey shrubbery using your face as an emergency brake.
I did both. It should have been dreadful. But you know what? It was bloody fantastic to the power of two working lungs. Starting off nervous, with a pounding fear that the first climb would confirm some unnamed permanent damage to my lungs, the day just got better and better as the conditions went the other way. Normally Iâ€™d hate riding in mid winter gloop with its pleasure killing slime and component destroying grit. But now today, although Iâ€™ll not be a rush to go back until some public spirited soul has been out with a hairdryer.
It took me only the remainder of the day to rebuild the battered husk of the transmission and a few more beers to dull the horror of the grit stripped paintwork. Still itâ€™s only money and the financial disaster that is my credit card deals with the detritus and I can go riding again. I have some catching up to do.
Forty miles down the road offers up sand instead of chalk as the subsoil structure so thigh deep mud was replaced with fast, dry trails interspersed with thick wheel gripping gloop whichâ€™d happily punt the unwary into a waiting tree. All part of the fun, apparently.
So it appears I got my lung back although in keeping with someone pursuing a one man quest to undertake every possible diagnostic test on the NHS, itâ€™s not all beer and skittles just yet. Well itâ€™s certainly missing the skittles.
Anyway, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve got the point and even if you havenâ€™t, this seems a good time to stop especially as Iâ€™m eagerly anticipating a short but intense relationship with a warm chicken.
Nothing wrong with that in the comfort of your own home.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m BACK 🙂