A Human Pace

And just like that it seems we’re in quite settled, quite warm weather. It changes everything, not least how long I feel like being in the saddle. I’m now doing 30+ mile (50-60 km) or longer rides in Berkshire, South Oxfordshire or North Hampshire.

With the warmth comes a change in pace – if they can, people seem to slow down, or at least want to. Where they can, there are more smiles to be seen; people seem happier and more relaxed.

In the villages (numerous) and small towns (Wallingford- or Watlington-sized, for example) that I’ve ridden through lately it seems palpable. People are still doing what they have to do, of course, but there’s less bustle and less hustle.

In contrast, in larger towns, Reading most obviously, the hot weather seems more likely to generate frustration – people want to slow down but can’t. The heat serves only to increase the tensions that come with the inevitable traffic jams or car park queues and so on. You can only pity the slow-cooked commuters on the trains.

And it seems to me the key thing is that it’s not the case that warm weather makes us want to relax and makes us happier and thus makes us slow down. Rather, it’s that we are wiling to slow down when it’s warmer, and it’s when we slow down that we find the slower pace makes us happier.

Obviously, that’s all just unscientific impressionism – it’s how it strikes me, that’s all. But it did make me wonder whether there’s such a thing as a human pace – a speed of things, a speed of life, that somewhere, somehow, deep down, chimes most happily with our internal body clocks or some other internal, instinctive rhythm.

If that were true, the natural conclusion should be that we ought to be trying to match the speed of our collective lives to that pace. As it is, collectively we seem remarkably willing to let any number of external factors dictate to us how fast we must live our lives: from the non-negotiable demands of the working day to the incessant nagging of social media.

PS: Apropos of nothing, I work with ‘unstated.name‘ – newly launched and which you might like.

Fox gloves in the sun

“Time to stop and smell the …”

Around Crazies Hill (Walk With Route)

Starting out from Knowl Hill (where it’s easy to park, if you’ve driven there) this is a not too taxing six mile walk. The return leg through Bottom Boles Wood and nearby was muddy for a while but that’s not too surprising given that there’s a very large brick works hidden away at Knowl Hill. Bricks need clay; clay makes for mud; it’s been a very wet winter. It was nothing that you’d call impassable, and you’re hardly likely to go out walking in summer shoes yet, so don’t let the thought of a muddy bit put you off.

Walk profile for around Crazies Hill

Six miles around Crazies Hill

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Link To GPX File.
About The Route Mapping

1,004 Words

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then herewith 1,004:

Cycling and walking curtailed by flooding

Cycling and walking curtailed

For The Sake Of It?

The roads are foul – debris strewn, wet, and filthy with both human and nature’s rubbish. If it’s not raining it will be shortly. If it’s not blowing a gale it will be shortly. True, around here – Berkshire and South Oxfordshire – we’re getting away with it relatively lightly (so far at least); there are plenty of places struggling far more with the consequences of all this bad weather. Nevertheless, it’s not as much fun as it could be if you’re out riding a bike this winter.

That all raises a question: what is it a measure of that I still went out today? What does it indicate that I’ve two friends (who are like me, cyclists for pleasure rather than necessity) who’ve been telling me that they’re either going out in the lousy conditions anyway, or are genuinely feeling the worse for not getting out?

Perhaps there’s something about the science of it – the pleasure-related chemicals released into the brain through exercise; perhaps you can get addicted to them. Perhaps that’s tied-in with our ancient ancestors and the fact that at root we aren’t made to live and work indoors. What I do know is that the desire to get out and ride is real – and it’s recommended. Leaving the obviously dangerous times aside, and as I’ve said before, it’s very rare indeed for a ride to be a mistake.

So the next time you see a cyclist out in bad weather, don’t think they’re out riding for the sake of it. Don’t think they’re daft. Think, instead, about joining in.

Winter tree line

And the light at this time of year has a unique quality too

A Dearth Of Birds

Three people within a local two-mile radius who I know regularly feed the birds in their urban gardens are reporting far fewer feathered visitors than usual. Someone else, a few miles away and out in the country, is saying the same.

Possibly, it’s just a function of a mild summer and early autumn, and there being lots of natural food around. Possibly.

On the other hand, if that were the case you’d expect to see more bird life in the country, but as I cycle around the lanes of South Oxon and Berkshire, I’m fairly sure I’m seeing far fewer birds about in fields, hedgerows and so on.

Possibly, the weather has changed migration patterns. Possibly. On the other hand, I think I’m right in saying we’ve plenty of native birds that don’t migrate. And besides, even if migration patterns had been disrupted, I’d have thought that would just mean different birds being here at different times, not fewer birds.

I’m not a dedicated, knowledgeable bird-watcher. None of the people feeding birds that I’ve referred to are, either. Hopefully, these are just inaccurate impressions and nothing’s amiss.

I suspect if our collective impressions are correct, whatever’s going wrong will have very serious implications.

Rooks over a field

Just a few

Old Wisdom

“Topography can’t lie but isobars can be fickle.”

In West Berkshire, I rode for while with a chap in his 80s (so he told me); riding what I reckon must have been a 30-40 mile route. In amongst everything else we chatted about, his maxim about the lie of the land versus the unreliability of the wind stays with me.

I’ve long advocated riding out into a headwind; I’ve long railed against the uselessness of most weather forecasts. Planning routes on the basis more of the land than the predicted wind direction might be wiser. He’s had more years than I to arrive at that view.