It feels like the end of the world. Painful early. Dark. Rain lashing. Last weekend it was early, not dark, cold but sharpening under the pristine clear skies. This morning’s ride doesn’t have much going for it. At least the clocks haven’t gone back yet, that’s when winter bites down hard.
Dom ‘Daisy’ Jones is waiting impatiently outside, I made him wait last weekend too as I wrestled cycling shoes into lightweight overshoes, just to keep the chill out. This week I’m late again – the kids wanted Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer just as I was leaving – I can’t fix that and wrestle cycling shoes into heavy duty overshoes (waterproof and fleece lined). Dom’s unimpressed.
The overshoes aren’t waterproof. Neither is my waterproof jacket. Last weekend I didn’t wear a jacket, a thin gilet over my jersey, it was a bit on the cold side but nothing a hard pull on the front to warm up couldn’t fix. My waterproof gloves are holding up. Even so I’m not looking forward to the next 3 hours. My phone is vibrating with cancellations, that or the torrential rains have already got to it and it’s shorting out in my jersey pocket.
We’re on a familiar route except riding it in a different direction too usual, just to mix the Sunday morning ride up a bit. The novelty is lost on us as the rain gets heavier, visibility through my misted, raindrop blinded glasses is minimal. It’s that or receive a shower of gritty spray in my eyes. Last week I was wearing sunglasses to keep the bright early morning sunshine out of my eyes.
We’re grinding out of Epsom, no one’s saying much, at Headley we head down Lodgebottom Road, a narrow country lane. Last week it was magical, our path cossetted by pristine frosted fields, so enchanting that I forgot about how cold it was. This week the road is so wet that the streams on its surface are overtaking us as we tentatively negotiate through the slimy autumnal leaf litter, horse chestnut husks and small brown balls fallen from the trees everywhere, marble like under tyres keep us on edge. Last week…
I stopped. Stopped thinking about the past. Stopped living in the past. Focused on now. Concentrated on today’s gritty, sodden ride not a rose tinted view of the past rides.
We do that in Great Britain: think of the past as a golden utopia. Once we had an Empire where the sun never set, where noble Brits were feared, revered and most importantly foreigners did what they were told. That’s gone. The World has moved on whilst us British have struggled to do the same.
It’s dangerous to live in the past, let erroneous memories guide current decision making. I need to slow down on this descent, take the corner cautiously. It’s not last week when I’m pretty sure I took it a whole lot faster.