As I type these notes I am conscious that my intentions were to be enjoying a final solo cycle as our fina day dawns. But it was not be.
For the final family fun run yesterday we decided to be kind, and to load the bikes on to the car and drive to a point suitably close to the chosen woodland trail. One of the benefits of my longish solo runs is in identifying routes suitable for picnics and with interest other than in turning pedals. It helps to keep the moanig down, sometimes. Loading the bikes on the rack though is no simple process, requires major effort before and after, and is also a solo effort.
But we found ourselves in the woods, dappled shade from tall oaks, and peddaling away, intent on lunch on the outskirts of Helden, having started in Maasbree. All went well, the Urchins’ bikes are meant for such tracks, and there were even sounds of enjoyment echoing through the trees, occasionally.
But the high point of such trips is always the picnic. And someone forgot the bananas, and the mini salamis. And it rained, quite heavily for a short while, after some rumblings overhead. But we found shelter in the woods, a roof right over our heads, as the car stereo had been playing earlier, and we shared a shelter. For two elderly Dutch couples had taken refuge before us. And before long there were flasks and sandwiches all around, as the rain drilled down on that roof, and puddles formed on the trails.
But we were soon off again, treacherous though it was for anyone foolish enough to ride a recumbent on sodden tracks, for it was mighty unstable and I feared a return to base caked in drying mud. We survived however, Urchin the Younger doing his best to get mud spraying up his own back, for the rear mud-guard had been removed to allow the seat to be a little lower; and he had puddles to aim for.
With the car being parked in town there was always the promise of dropping in on Mr Lidl, the grocer, ice cream to fetch, while the lackey was doing his chores in re-loading the bikes onto the the car. And the lackey was cursing by then, so they were glad to wander away. The lackey was cursing as he knew then that final solo run on the morrow was not going to be, which is why you find me hammering at the keys rather than the cranks as intended. For with the car in sight, the final junction to ease from, did The Grasshopper not protest too much? Chain snapped.
I had been worried for some days about the build up of muck and grease in the gear mechanisms, resorting to a bit of debris removal with a cotton bud stick. But the sunshine after the rain – that one wasn’t playing in the car – had been too much, and it all jammed solid so that when those powerful thigh muscles got to work something had to give. And so it was that I ended up sitting drenched in sweat looking like a grease monkey, slurping melting ice cream in a car park. My eyes were screaming for contact lenses being removed, but those fingers were going nowhere close to an eye. Tears, I couldn’t even muster moisture. And the bike’s off the road, more angst to resolve on the homeward return.
And just to cap it all, when I should right now be enjoying the early hours on the roads, did the airbed not go and puncture as I was struggling to escape my sweaty pod in response to nocturnal urgings. Naughty step tonight then. But before that a final dip in the bell, the quiet hour when everyone else is at dinner. The law of sod being what it is I’ll probably find it drained. Holidays, don’t you just love them?