Moments of truth
Tuesday 2 December 2014, Filed in: General
Charlie and I stared at the shards of metal sticking out from the hole in which the bike pedal should have been located. It was two in the morning, part way through what was planned to be an all-night bike ride. We’d already had three punctures in the 112 miles we had covered so far and had to cope with heavy rain that had not been forecast. Neither of us could quite face the call home to ask either of our wives for a lift home. It motivated us to somehow find a solution. We bodged a repair and gingerly headed home.
It was then we had what writers, from the comfortable chairs at their writing desks call a ‘moment of truth’. The point at which you make the decision to give up or carry on. And so, at 4am, I sneaked into the house and filled two instant porridge pots with water to cool and thicken whilst with tools in hand we replaced the broken parts on the bike. Less than half an hour later we were on our way to finish off a slightly truncated version of our original route.
There’s something about all night rides that is really special. What are busy unpleasant roads during the day are quiet paths through fields and forests at night. Foxes bark, owls call and the reflected glare from eyes buried deep in the undergrowth hint at badgers and other animals. No phone calls, emails, texts or other disruptions - just peace and quiet.
The hardest part is getting through the witching hours, that time just before dawn when eyes are heavy and the overwhelming need to sleep irresistible. It’s another decision point stop or carry on. If you can hang on for just an hour or two more and dawn comes. The arrival of the new day is magical. Deep blue shifts to orange and peach coloured skies and suddenly without realising it it’s dawn. With it, comes a sense of being alive, awake and refreshed.
As we passed through the 200 mile mark our thoughts turned to fresh coffee and breakfast. But the night was not quite finished with us yet. Another puncture. Within three miles of repairing this one, the tyre was flat once more. Such is the joy of riding on roads where the hedges have just been cut and the roads are awash with tiny flints. What should have been the warm satisfaction of a great ride was replaced with the fear of another puncture - we’d run out of kit to do any more repairs. With one mile to go, the dreaded sound of escaping air could be heard. We made a mad dash for home to get back before the tyre went completely flat. We made it - just - just as the other wheel also punctured.
215 miles, 7 punctures, a broken chain set could not detract from having faced our own moments of truth and never giving in...until the phone went. "Dad...have you eaten my porridge pots?" One moment of truth too far.
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