The narrows and the shallows!

Well, tomorrow morning at the crack of sparrows I shall be embarking on another series of road trips with the aim to hit a few dirt trails I’ve not been on before and go in search of interesting places.

Obviously, the whole of the UK is still stuck in a sauna right now, so leaving in the early hours has its benefits with the air being a lot cooler but all should be quiet on the road and trails…apart from anyone else who has the same idea as myself that is.

Every few days, I’ll repeat a general direction to the same destination, but I make it a mission the change the route or track along a trail that I’ve not been on before. It ads novelty to the day but also ads a sprinkling of adventure too as you’re never quite sure what you’ll encounter.

Right now the dirt trails are dry and crumbling into powder and when the sun beats down on you, it’s as if you’re baking in your biking clothes. Add the heat from the engine, the stagnant air in your helmet and the sweat that soaks your shirt and pants…it can be quite unpleasant if you get the timing wrong.

So an early trip or a ride through the forests does tend to cool you down a lot, but in the narrow valleys on an open plain can be hell on earth for any wayward rider. The air stands still as hedges and rising terrain either side of the track acts like a barrier to any airflow. Whilst any moisture becomes elusive as a downed pilot trained in the art of evasion…apart from those shallow streams and river fords you’ll try to seek out, to dip your feet in for some refreshment.

On many of my recent rides, especially through forests, I’ve noticed how the trees are suffering in this prolonged heat and dry period. Trees and leaning and creaking, branches are breaking and falling…whilst roots are crumbling and ditches are running dry.

Take last night, when out filming another Biker’s Travelog video for the YouTube channel, I was surprised at how bone dry a couple of streams and ditches were. I’ve not seen this since I was a boy. Although running dry in the summertime is not unusual, what is unusual is for the ground at the bottom of the ditch and stream to be completely dry too. Leaves would crumple and turn to particulate under the pressure of my foot as I walked along to access another part of the forest beyond.

People talk about the effects on the environment from pollution or how it changes according to the conditions and we rarely see it happening before our eyes, but right now I’m seeing a lot of changes on the trails…from animals that are less timid, trails that are covered in dead wood and the air that is dry and full of flying dust.

So if you’re venturing out on a walk or a ride out in to countryside right now, take a good look around and see what’s happening out there. It can be subtle or it can be stark, but there are changes out there, everything is starved of water, landscapes are parched to a tinder box, field fires are occurring by random misfortune and look out above as you never know what may be falling on to you. And just as you get used to these conditions, eventually the rains will come, and it’ll dramatically change again…as the ground initially refuses to accept the rain, causing surface flooding, or the plants and tress will suck it up like frenzied addicts scoring their first fix in months.

Where I ride, in the narrows and the shallows, is where the air is still, the temperatures soar and the changes are most recognised.

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