After a 12-hour night shift, what you really want to do is get on your bike and cycle 25 miles home, right? What choice do I have? Self imposed, at least it keeps the miles ticking over, minimises the risk of injury so near to Friday at the beginning of the Ten in Ten? Seriously do I need to remind myself? I ask you.
So there I am, pedalling along when I approach the T-junction, glance left, then right, then left then, oops, there's a car coming, schoolboy error, I've not un-clipped my cleats. As I approach the perilous edge of the T-junction with trepidation I must now decide whether I have the power to motor ahead and avoid the car missing me, or teeter to a tottering halt, lose my balance and wobble left or right tumbling like some sort of landed inflexible, mechanical trout onto my side. Oh, the options? First off, let's avoid the car and give the driver a more pleasant morning than had he/she hit me (unless they had a grudge of course and the collision could have been labelled 'accident'). Secondly, do I fall (a) left onto the pavement, or (b) right into the other side of the road? Option a. Decision made and so the embarrassing, (why does it always appear to be) slow-motion flop to the side begins. Quickly, look up and around, like some eager meerkat to see if anyone has seen me? And, there they are. Behind the net curtains, Mrs Miggins (or Smith, or Wilson, or Ramsbottom, or some other such name) has copped it. Yep, she's seen the whole thing, witnessed some 50 year old, loose around the edges, lycra-clad loser unceremoniously dumping themselves into the gutter. The only thing I can't see is whether she is guffawing into her cornflakes, or she's just taken a mouthful and blurted them out over her china, or worse still she's dribbled her tea in laughter all over Liz's Diary at the back of the You supplement. Quick, get up, make it look like nothing has happened, don't acknowledge her, look straight ahead, carry on your way. Unfortunately, not. Old 'Doris' in her flannel nightie has lifted the yellowing nets and mouthed 'Are you okay?' Collecting myself, I give her a youthful thumbs up and quickly pedal away acting as confidently as the five year old on his first day at big school who's has just had an accident in his pants. Actually, it didn't happen, but it could have. Okay, maybe just the odd once or twice it has. That bashful feeling of self awareness is always the same. Now, to get home and make sure that I remain injury free by avoiding as many pot-holes as possible and employing radar like vision to ensure no lairy Sunday drivers get to bash me.
I avoided the main roads on my way home and I'm glad I did. When you can forget about yourself and lose your eyes, your head and yourself in the glory that is the English countryside and the quirks of the the odd Yorkshire (although it could be said of many counties) village. Take Moulton for instance, they don't have a bus stop. How pedestrian, nope they've been inventive, quirky, thoughtful, whimsical, in fact I don't care how I label it, I love the idea, they have a Book Stop. Yep, the bus stop in their village has a selection of books from which to choose, whilst waiting for the number 34.
A quick right turn after the Book Stop and I'm on the final push home along Bunny Boulevard (sounds like some American porn star); there are hundreds of openings beneath the hedgerow to what must be a thriving warren. Only, maybe not such a thriving haven, as I recall and witness the splattered carnage and why I've chosen to provide this established shrubbery lined avenue with such a fanciful moniker. Carcass after carcass of Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail are strewn, in postage stamp style across the length and width of the mile stretch of lane. Still, the crows look healthy.
I'm really tired now and only a few miles left to go. I'm hungry, thirsty and just want my bed. But I feel like I'm being watched, very carefully. The hairs prickle on the bag of my neck, my 'spidey' sense is tingling. Perhaps there is some orc-ish troll reconnoitring the dales and moors or even an alien scout seeking evidence of typical human behaviour. And there it is, the realisation, that I truly am not alone. Except that it wasn't one of those realisations of doom, more of how daft must I look to my observer, except the surveyor makes me laugh, just as I hopefully helped to provide a little chuckle to Mrs Miggins, I'm the lucky recipient on this occasion as periscopically a head emerges from behind the hedge and scans in a smooth 180 degree motion. My wake-up call was a creamy alpaca. And just as her beady eyes and mop top head had risen, she appeared to descend without the ripple of a breath in the otherwise tranquil country air. Still chuckling to myself and surprised was I, that I stopped to see if she would pose for the camera. U-turn on my bike, still smirking, I asked Alberta (Alberta the Alpaca of course) to pop up again, she duly obliged. My second time of embarrassment this morning, when a mini peleton of middle aged cyclists rode by as I'm trying to engage in Dr Doolittle-like conversation with Alberta. I care not on this occasion, my morning's made. I have a protein shake, a cup of tea, bacon butty and hot bath waiting for me. My shift may be done but I'm sure I'll wake up with a smile on my face later, to the memory of my early morning a-llama clock (sorry, very poor Dad joke).
Whatever else will you or I find to make us grin, grimace or groan later?