It was a stormy weekend, both physically and politically, following the referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU, and the repercussions were buzzing in my head as I left home Saturday, into the grey June morning. A solo, relatively hilly (3200 m elevation) 200 km audax is a long while thinking.
Politics aside, it was a challenging trip to Witney in the morning. Riding itself was fine and the normal steady Audax pace churned out the miles easily, even the Bishop's Cleeve one in four. But the traffic was cruel, leaving me inches from death on three occasions. A small fledgling hadn't been so lucky and he flapped in the lane, broken-winged and doomed. I stopped to give him a quick end, but he managed to disappear into the undergrowth and out of site for good. It was with a heavy heart I left him to a long lingering death and finished the journey to Witney as the rain came and went.
Melancholy I sat and waited for my good friends Jen, Lee and their wonderful 4 year old Ruth. It wasn't long until they appeared, Ruth immediately brightening the day with her golden hair, huge smile and childhood innocence. Who cares about politics when there are first-ever bike rides to discuss, songs to sing and cuddles to demand? Kids have a way of reminding you what is important in the world, and the entire day felt so much more optimistic, even as you sit and wait out another rainstorm.
The journey back was under still-angry skies, with lightening and thunder rolling above my head, flash flooding dragging branches and stones down roads and spewing storm drains filling every hollow. And yet, the torrential rain skirted my route, never hitting full pelt as I watched the heart of the storm from a distance.
The most significant part of the route climbs relentlessly, first steadily up the lee side of the Cotswold outcrop before tangling up in the North Western folded hills of the Stroud District. Up down up down up down, then, just when you feel the need for a breather.....wooooooosssshhhh......one big descent and it's back on the flat plains of the Severn Valley, dodging Saturday shoppers in Gloucester and taking your life into your hands on the A40 cycleroute crossing. I breathed a sigh of relief as I made it to the central reservation, a speeding van only just missing my back wheel, and made a decision that this would be the last time of riding this route. It needs a rethink to avoid the nasty Cotswold traffic and useless Gloucester City infrastructure. However, it was still a good journey, both physically and metaphorically, and I arrived home feeling just about ready to take on whatever life throws my way in this tumultuous world.