Just Yuk

It doesn’t happen often, but today’s was a grotty ride and I’d have been quite happy not to have done it.

The sign to Bury Down on the Ridgeway, near Wantage

A bad day on the bike. You could have put us out of our misery and buried us just down there.

The intention was a ‘blow the cobwebs out’ trip on the Ridgeway up and around the Wantage area with Charli. The reality was a hard slog on a very windy day with lots of mud and water around after the downpours of yesterday – the ‘worst September storm for 30 years’, apparently. I fell off – albeit slowly and without doing any damage, Charli nearly did and both of us were happy to cut it short and go home. Neither of us had ‘anything in the legs’ as they say – for some reason we were both running on empty.

Hey ho – so it goes. It’s rare that there’s a day I’d rather have not ridden. Of course, as is always the case, a bad day is far more memorable and makes far more impact on your consciousness than all the good ones. That seems fairly natural: that makes it yet another example of natural not always equating to good.

Nothing’s Wrong, Except Everything

I was cycling ‘up on the downs’ (a phrase that I’ll never tire of) today, with Charli. It was a lovely day – a warm clear day in England in September does tend to be far better than a mid-summer day; it can be hot but somehow fresher.

The path down from up on the downs

The path down from up on the downs

As you’d expect for the area (near Wantage), it’s all very ‘nice’. The average car’s on the new side; the typical house is a long way from cheap. There are plenty of horses in the fields and let’s face it, they’re purely luxuries. There was nothing ‘wrong’ with anything we saw at all – nothing, except everything.

Save The Children is having to start operations in the UK. I do not know how that can not be a screaming headline in every form of media. No, poverty’s not a simple problem to tackle. Yes, surely, there are problems to address in how society might and does try and tackle poverty.

But all that should, surely, pale into insignificance against the bald fact that Save the Children is starting work in the UK. That headline should be screamed until it is no longer true – until the problem is effectively tackled.

That anyone with any influence at all over the levers of power, the levers that could be being used to address the ludicrous, gross inequality of wealth distribution, can be failing to respond to that bald fact says pretty well everything you need to know about those with their hands on those levers.

As much as I’m a happy little cyclist mooching around the comfortable rural idylls of middle England, we need different people to operate the levers.

When It Goes Wrong

When it goes wrong, it goes wrong. A ride on the Ridgeway up near Wantage with Charli. Nice weather, few people around and a good route with good views, even in the hazy sunshine – potentially that’s all fine. My front gear was playing up. I was over-dressed so I ended up hot and struggling not to overheat on the steep bits. My suspension on the rear felt too soft, and to just round it all off nicely I punctured, despite using the generally excellent Panaracer puncture protection tyre liners.

Thorns are quite stunningly sharp and strong. I think I’m right in saying that bee stings are far more refined than anything we can make. Thorns are far more potent than you might imagine too – that one today went through the tyre and the kevlar lining and, of course, the inner tube too. And that’s a thick mountain bike tyre, not a road race tyre. The power of nature and all that … It makes the average bit of barbed wire look pretty feeble.

On the plus side, we did get to see seven hares. Last year, up near there, we met a police patrol; we chatted for a bit and they said they were looking for evidence of hare coursing. My brother says he sees evidence of lamping around where he lives. We are gradually moving away from treating wild animals as sport but it’s a slow process. I suppose we need to always remember the progress that we have made; at least hare coursing is illegal now.