I’d like to confess to something that only a select group of friends and family, including my husband and parents, know. Oh, and the listeners of a university radio station in whom I confided when the weight of my action became too much to handle alone. A few years ago, on a bike ride with a friend, I killed a frog. There was really nothing I could do to prevent it, at least that’s what I’ve had to start telling myself in order to sleep at night. It was on the path and I was going very fast. I didn’t see it until it was too late. Then I had to continue seeing it as my wheel spun in front of me. If it hadn’t been me it might have been funny.
This evening found me on another bike ride. A bike ride that was all round much bumpier, slower and took more effort than it would have if I’d had the foresight to pump up my tires before I left. I considered asking one of the passing cyclists if I could borrow a pump, but sadly I am totally incapable of interacting with strangers in that way, so I ploughed on. I realise I could also have turned round and gone back home but where’s the fun in that?
I had a very romantic idea of cycling along to the nearest town, pulling up at a pub with an area out the front for me to sit in the evening sun and having a refreshing glass of coke. I’d prop up my bike, pop inside, helmet unclipped but still on my head, comment to the bartender about the pleasant evening, raise a glass to other outdoorsy people around me and head back outside to sit with my bike, not because I was worried it would be stolen, oh no! But because I wanted to take a perfectly filtered picture to add to my blog post about how wonderful it is to be alive. My dreams were dashed as the only pubs I saw proudly advertised their wide screen TVs and surround sound for all your footballing needs and, thoughtfully, as little pavement as possible outside. I imagine this is to give their patrons as little a way to stumble to a taxi as possible, after their team loses the match.
It’s amazing what a difference in surroundings you can find on a 5 mile bike ride. What was most noticeable was the difference in smells; stagnant water, cut grass, petrol from a burnt out car, cut grass, horse poo, some kind of delicious food from an unseen location, stagnant water. Fascinating and also very confusing to my senses. I returned home with a craving for a plate of steaming hot grass and chips…
Something I’ve realised from living in Norwich is that, even though some drivers are totally mad and completely incapable of driving, people are at least fairly accustomed to the sight of someone on a bike. Tonight’s route had me cycle on the road for a very short amount of time, not enough to get up any real speed, and I was on a fairly narrow and winding road so drivers behind me were forced to drive slowly rather than speed past me. I indicated to come off the road and the driver behind me actually came to an almost complete stop to allow me to make what was essentially a U turn back onto the cycle path. She was also kind enough not to laugh at me when, after taking my hand from the handlebar to thank her, I almost rode directly into a post.