flick the switch

flick the switch

I’ve always wanted a pair of knee warmers.  I’ve always loved my arm warmers.  knee warmers are a logical acquisition.  I’ve always wanted to drive a BMW.  Last weekend I was lucky enough to be handed the keys to a brand spanking new BMW. 

At first I was a little disappointed, one look at the BMW’s tiny boot and I panicked.  How was I going to fit my bike and the rest of my family’s weekend bags in the boot/trunk?  As the boot lid clunked softly into place, rather than marvel at its automatic-ness, I despondently wished that my lumpy Volvo SUV wasn’t languishing in a Volvo dealership deep in rural France (that’s a whole different story) – until the simple silver ‘335d’ letters glimmered in the late pre—Bank Holiday sunlight. 

Until that moment, I feared that I had been saddled with an overrated, underpowered, pseudo-aspirational vehicle that would not meet my multiple long Easter Bank Holiday weekend requirements (I.e. Comfortably transporting children to grandparents in Devon for Easter, including a visit to the beach, an Easter Egg Hunt and of course an epic ‘Trans-Dartmoor’ bike ride – not many cars can meet that ask).  335d had changed all that.  Sure, compromises needed to be made but when being in possession of a 300ps, 4.6 second to 60mph all-wheel drive rocket, nothing seemed impossible.

I had high hopes for the knee warmers too.  The Devon weather had just enough of an edge to it to chill, the strong Westerly didn’t help matters – although the extra effort required to battle through the Atlantic’s worst surely generated more body heat.  Not wanting to resort to full length bib-shorts (to be honest I’d not have fit them in the BMW’s boot) I wrapped my knees up snug in the handy clothing extenders.   

The disappointment.  Pearl Izumi can usually be relied upon to produce kit that surpasses expectations. Not this time.  Mostly the knee warmers slipped down to rest annoyingly above my thigh and flap loosely at my ankle. It could be that I’m just too short and I’m doing a fantastic bit if kit a disservice.

The BMW was also proving to be less than the sum of its expensive parts.  It’s simple, austere interior wasn’t a place of drama although the driving position did fit like a bespoke suit.  The iDrive system was a complex distraction, less easy to navigate than the Devon lanes.  That wasn’t the only distraction, the narrow backseat placed my daughters in uncomfortable proximity allowing open warfare to break-out.

Devon wasn’t a disappointment.  In that rare moment of sunshine, it’s truly a special place.  At other times it’s a brooding, menacing land.  Cycling in Devon?  I’ve complained bitterly about Devon before.  Is there a more sadistic County for cyclists?  Its ups are big, sharp, steep it’s downs short, sharp, steep, with brakes jammed on to survive the gravelly surface, the mud or the inevitable farm tractor or worse caravaner.  There’s no payback for the arduous uphill toil.

Just as Devon’s mood switches from sparkling to dark so could the BMW’s.  I chanced across a button that switched its persona from mild mannered middle manager to a spitting, snarling possessed maniac.  One touch of the dull, innocent switch and the beast within  growled and threw itself forward like a guided surface-to-air missile.  Press the button again and Hyde became Dr Jekyll again even wanting to help with fuel conservation.

BMW engineered mood-change. 

At a flick of a switch from calm to dynamic, angry to sublime.  If only it was so easy to control our moods.  From erratic to rationale, from ignorant to wise.  Or maybe not.  With control, spontaneity goes out the window.

What of the knee warmers?  I donated them to my Father who thinks the soft fleece liners will be great for polishing furniture.