Well, has anyone noticed how windy it’s been the last couple of days? Well, I suppose that depends on where you are in the world of course, but here in the UK it has got very blustery all of a sudden…which makes riding a little sketchy at times.
A couple of days ago I ventured out onto the dirt trails and byways that took me out onto the plains with some very exposed stretches. Needless to say the wind was blowing right across my path and was having it’s wicked way with my large frame. Whilst the strength of the wind wasn’t really much of a hindrance, the gusting nature was, especially when I would ride past a gap in the hedge or tree line. Very quickly it became quite loose and wobbly, but then stabilised in the blink of an eye.
All very exciting stuff with no major dramas, however then I ventured back into the wooded trails and this is where I questioned whether indeed this was a good idea or not. The wind has a habit of breaking things, uprooting large plants and generally creating a shower of flying debris in your path…so after being clocked in the face a few times and having to cut my way through blocked trails, I thought it best practice to get out of there and back to more open tracks.
The last two nights, the winds have reached unto gale force winds and my Met Office app on my phone is constantly pinging wind alerts too…I wonder why? I don’t think I need the app to tell me that it’s windy outside, but there you go! The reason this is relevant is that as I lay awake in bed listening to the wind and the rain…I often get the feeling of calm too. I like listening to storms and watching rain fall. The wind blowing around buildings and through trees, across fields and through gaps.
I like to see tumbleweed rolling around or leaves and litter being tossed up in the air and carried away to the slaughter. I like it because I am in a place of refuge. I like it because I know I am warm and cosy whilst outside it’s going to be another bad hair day. I like it because I know that whilst I’m inside, I’m less likely to be hit by something that’s broken off a big old tree and is being hurled in my general direction.
This sense of calm I believe first came to me when as a boy I was have overnight stays in a caravan and I vividly remember the storm of storms; 200Db Thunder, 500Million Lumen Lighting and enough rain to float a ship in dry dock…OK, possibly not so much…but you get the point.
I remember thinking I should be scared, but I was anything but…in fact I was relishing the amazing sights and sounds and did not want it to end. At about the same time I remember finding a picture of an old oil painting by German painter: Caspar David Friedrich which seemed to sum up what I was feeling too. ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’ depicted an ageing man, stood on top of coastal rocks, looking out onto a stormy sea. It resonated with me. It was the wonder of natural power and the fragility of existence. It was a reflection of my voyeuristic nature to look out and see the stormy world around me…be immersed within it but still disconnected somehow too.
That feeling never left me and I still have that sense of excitement but also trepidation too. I ride the trails in almost all conditions, only halting when the safety envelope in pushed too hard. The high winds and winter conditions, I tend to be logical and avoid the narrow tracks and stick to wider byways. I take it easy in the wet and muddy conditions but tend to stick to non rainy days…mostly because it’s hellish to get any decent video footage when it’s peeing down.
The last couple of days has certainly brought home to me the onset of autumn. I’ve noticed more and more leaves on the turn, the tracks starting to get wet in places and water to pool in others. The temperature has dropped, certainly at 6am ride when I attempting to start a new trail in the dark but break out at dawn, and of course the storms are coming in fast.
Like the old man standing on the rocks, I’m looking out at the power of nature and I am held fast to my spot. I cannot peer away and run to the hills, I am transfixed just as I was as a boy. I want to be in the eye with my bike, have the ferocious power encircle me…but give me that safe passage home…I hope and pray!