Archive | March, 2015

Seeing stars….

27 Mar


So. I haven’t been feeling great this week, so I felt that I needed to get some fresh air. In my infinite wisdom, I decided that this could best be achieved by a trip to Stamford. In order to maximise the ‘exercise’ part of this jaunt, I felt it would be best to do this by bike. A quick check of the map suggested this would be around a 50km round trip. Not too shabby. To add interest and make it a bit tougher, I thought I would take a short cut across some tracks and through the woods (it seems that the idea of going from Oundle to Stamford fell out of favour a while back, compounded by the fact that someone built an air base in the way). To add incentive, I promised myself a large vanilla milkshake when I got there.

The journey out was uneventful. I failed completely to get lost, break down, get a puncture or even lose anything. I had however failed to recognise the combined effects of listening to the entire 3 CD set of ‘Greatest Prog Rock Tracks Ever!’…. although this contains some wonderful gems by the likes of Curved Air (Back St Luv), Nazareth (This Flight Tonight), Argent (Hold Your Head Up) and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (Faith Healer) the combined effects of too much jazz based guitar noodling and overblown synth playing may have left my head rather fuzzy. (This CD set brought to me by the best brother on the planet (and I don’t care how great your brother is, I’m not backing down on this one) who has the knack of buying the best possible presents EVER).

But I digress. Stamford duly reached, vanilla milkshake duly consumed, I am back on the bike. I make good progress home, although a late start has created a certain amount of increased pressure to get back before dark. I set off across the country track and make it to the woods before disaster strikes. A flat tyre. In the gathering twilight I duly repair this puncture, the process being aided by it being quite clearly obvious where the damn thorn went in in the first place.

All sorted, I ride on. I decide to take the road out of the wood rather than the track I came in on. However, it becomes apparent that this is the (very) long road out of the wood. I decide to take a shortcut and head down another track marked on the map. This track is not particularly well travelled (for a reason which will become clear in a couple of paragraphs or so).

I ride down the track, avoiding the occasional marshy area and the worst of the ruts, but failing to notice a large tussock of grass in my way. Such a nice word, ‘tussock’ all soft and rural gentle. Do not be deceived. They lie in wait as traps for the unwary.

The tussock stops my front wheel. Dead. Stopping the front wheel, of course, invokes certain other potential side effects in order to dissipate the kinetic energy I have put quite a lot of effort into creating. The first of these is to launch one (1) human over the handlebars. The second is to pivot the rest of the bike over the front wheel, ensuring that it then is launched over the top of the aforementioned human.

I am, very briefly, flying, albeit pursued by a cartwheeling bicycle. I do not really have time to enjoy this experience before I have to deal with the concept of landing. I forget all my training to ‘tuck and roll, minion, tuck and roll’.

I land. Face plant. In the mud. If a face plant can be said to be perfect, this is one of the perfect ones. I am of course wearing my helmet. This helmet is of no use whatsoever, of course, because it is actually my face that has hit the (fortunately fairly soft) ground, avoiding neatly the helmet covered part of my head. However, there is quite a lot of kinetic energy still to dissipate, so the rest of me is now launched over my own head in an ungainly somersault. I am not sure which bit of me hurts more. I am pretty certain I have the right number of legs and arms, and the requisite number of fingers and toes attached to these.

However, I now have a flat nose, and a suspicion that I might have actually broken my neck. Gentle exploration and tests suggest that while it’s going to hurt like buggery in the morning, I am, all things considered, in one piece.

I gather my scattered belongings and take some comfort in the fact that no one was watching, and set off down the track. Which ends at an impenetrable hedge. There are tyre tracks leading up to the hedge, so whether some sort of Platform 9 3/4 magic is going on or not I do not know. It is clear, however, that I am not getting home that way.

I set off across a track, probably forged by others who have fallen into the same trap as I (although probably without the whole ‘tussock’ incident). It seems I have been misled again. The track dumps me into a small wood of brambles and trees, which would be difficult to navigate even without a bike in tow.

Finally I find a gap, leap the ditch and head across the field. The stars are now truly beautiful, although I am still a long way from dinner. Finally, my tyres touch the cold hard tarmac of a rural Northamptonshire road. All is well.

Until I stop and realise that my phone is missing. Although I had retrieved it after the somersaulting circus performance, it seems that it is no longer in my bag.

I set off back across the field. Uphill (to add insult to injury). Fortunately I have a torch. I retrace my steps to the tussock of doom. No sign of a phone. I set off back again, navigating my way through the mini-forest on the path I think I can remember taking. Hurrah! There is is, the little beauty, all safe and sound..I can relax again (and cancel the early morning alarm that would have me back at the crack of dawn to check again).

Back across the field, pausing yet again to look at the stars. They really do look beautiful tonight.


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