Devon July 2013.
These days when I set out from my little hut to ride into town, I have a wide array of choices. Narrowed down to 3 they are
1) Up, down, along and an easy 7 miles on the main road……… but right now it is 8.30am, rush hour and already hot in the sun. Not for today, then. Besides, it has been said that for cyclists over 50, it is best for the heart to start off on the level and approach effort steadily. That’s a joke in Devon.
2) Steep down, beautiful shady valley, tiny lanes, long haul up, long sail down, and quiet, so a harder but lovely cool, shorter 5 mile ride…… On balance the best this time.
Or…. for those frivolous days when energy levels are at a peak,
3) up down, up down, up down, wiggle wiggle, etc. all hillocks steep and sharp, overgrown with grass in the centre, and trailing out from the sides of these summery tunnels, (in winter, of course, the mud, ruts and fallen branches are the problem ) nettles and brambles. These will either sting or scratch exposed flesh, or more lethally, lasso the handle bars and yank you suddenly into the hedge with no warning. All very narrow and perfectly good fun if there are no big white vans about to hurtle around the next blind bend. For this potential hazard I am particularly proud of my air horn, which operates on compressed air, pumped into a plastic bottle. With a shock wave of 140 decibels it is enough to blast any reckless driver out of his/her seat.
I am certain it has saved my life at least four times this year. I am rather less proud of the time I nearly gave someone a heart attack because I leant on it accidentally in the centre of pedestrian Exeter. Both the startled victim and I were mortified.
You will be glad to know that I do not use it on cycle paths to scatter walkers. I call out sweetly “good morning, may I come through?”
If they are feeling grisly, they say
“where’s your bell?”
It is tempting to tell them, but I might run out of air just when a big white van is on its way……. so I exercise restraint.