In these days of Green Living and Eco- Awareness, I try to be mindful of nearly all of my purchases and consumption of goods in terms of how it may impact the environment. Travelling to and from work is no exception. Whenever I have work or business in Exeter, I take the bus. No hassles about parking and I can read or talk to people or just enjoy the beautiful ride down from Dartmoor.
I recently started a new job about 2.5 miles away. It’s not on a bus route so I can ride my pushbike. Still there are energy costs. Five miles = 250 calories = toast with peanut butter & honey or 3 digestive biscuits or a banana and mayonnaise sandwich. I can handle that and I don’t have to worry about the ozone layer.
I’ve pressed my mountain bike into service. My trusty hard-tail, front-suspension Novara which I have used for commuting, touring, off road and all round exploring. I have a road tyre on the front and a knobby tyre on the back for versatility. If I want to take a bridle path or cycle across a field, no problems. A pannier for my work clothes and lunch and I am good to go.
My daily commute takes me along a winding river road into the Teign Valley, past fields of Devon Ruby cattle.
I have a Miffy bicycle bell that I ring at the cows.
The older ones placidly turn their heads for a look, but I fascinated and astonished this young heifer who stopped in mid-chew.
The road is lined with trees and hedgerows. I can’t wait to get deeper into autumn when I will ride through flurries of golden leaves. I’ll need my bicycle light by the end of the month as the nights draw in.
Sometimes after work, I take the long way home and do some exploring.
The road less travelled
Teign road bridge
Just over a fortnight ago while on an Explore, I found a fast, downhill, single-lane road. I was enjoying it immensely until I swerved to avoid some water running off from the fields. The next thing I knew, I was skidding on my right knee and had a Very Bad Spill. After I had assessed that the damage to my bike and to me wasn’t critical, I discovered that I was lost. Not too bad when I can keep riding and get myself found, but I was on foot and pushing my bike. To make matters worse I was in the middle of a pine plantation, which was dark and spooky. I started to feel panicky and wanted very much Not To Be There. Then, I remembered some words by the poet David Waggoner that I had recycled for a quilt I made a few years ago:
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made the place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
– David Waggoner
From Who Shall Be the Sun?:
Poems Based on the Lore, Legends, and Myths
of Northwest Coast and Plateau Indians (1978).
I kept going, the road leveled out enough that I could ride again and I shortly found my way to a crossroads that I recognised. I stopped again for a rest and found that I could get a phone signal. I was able to contact my sweetie and receive godspeed for my journey home and texted xxx’s for my knee and elbow.
Two weeks later, after several visits to the nurse and a course of antibiotics, I am back on my bike. Lesson learnt? Watch my manoeuvres on wet roads. I will visit a bike shop when I am in Bristol this weekend to get some waterproof trousers and a new tail light so I’ll be all set for Autumn.