Wednesday 14 May 2014

Nuns on the run

So its a beautiful sunny evening and I am staying in Hook in Hampshire so decide to get in a few miles.  Hook is an interesting place, a small village with a station and industrial estate to the side which is the home of some major companies.

Hook's council are I think currently suffering from road planning by six year olds with crayons.  There's only really three roads into the village centre and at the moment almost all of them have traffic light controlled roadworks.  Making it hellish at peak times to get anywhere.

But my need to just get on the bike is so high. My brother and I are doing a sixty mile sportive at the weekend and I have maybe only ridden 5 or 6 times since Christmas.  So its on with the lycra, helmet, drink bottle prepared and I am off to the countryside.  Heading west out of Hook on the main road it is possible to turn right after around half a mile and head out on a country lane towards Old Basing.

Getting out of Hook and onto the country lane is easy and then I put the hammer down a bit (stupid really bearing in mind the limited riding I've done, but hey ho its off to ride we go).  I think my Garmin is having a laugh though, it reports I'm doing a rather optimistic 134 mph, Bradley Wiggins eat your heart out.  In reality, it's in shock to be being used. When I woke it up it sleepily started asking me questions like,  "Have you travelled hundreds of miles since last time you rode?" which is pretty intuitive.  I was here last week and rode as well, starting at the same car park, but I did go home to Yorkshire in between.  It was switched off the whole time I travelled home but it seemed to know.

It also asked if the date was really the 14th May.  Oh come on, I know I haven't used you that much, but really, do you have to rub it in.  I hit yes, it is, and tell it "Look I haven't used you too much this year, just shut up and record my ride".  It's response,  134 mph.

Anyway, I crack on to Old Basing, setting into a rhythm and the Garmin now behaving (or at least until I hit the first hill when it tells me I'm doing 2 Mph,  liar, I'm going faster really.....I hope).

Through old basing and up to Bramley where there is a level crossing which always catches me.  Doesn't matter when I travel, I always end up waiting for ages.

There is a small country lane (with car passing places, so yes it's small) just before turning right towards Bramley. Here a Golf GTI gets rather close to my back wheel.  The occupants obviously slightly impatient keep revving the engine and seem to keep getting closer and closer.  As soon as the road is barely wide enough for the car, they floor the accelerator, squeeze past me (I mean squeeze) and fly off down the country lane).  Myself almost ending up in a pot hole trying to avoid being crushed.

But, one feels so much better when one gets to catch up with idiots like this.  Yes you guessed it, the level crossing is closed and as I head into Bramley the road is backed up with traffic.  Just two cars in front of me is the GTI, still revving it's engine.  Time to ride by, prepare my reverse Churchill salute and plant my bike at the front of the traffic triumphantly. So I pull out, pass the 4 x 4 in front of me and close up to the GTI where I slow, lift one hand from the handle bars ready and peer in ready to give the occupants a piece of my mind.

However, the driver must be nearly 90, bespectacled and a Habit wearing nun. She is so small, I swear, she is looking through the steering wheel not over it. Her passenger looks so old, she is maybe waiting for her letter from the queen and also wearing a Habit.  So I quickly retract my hand, nod politely and ride by.  I mean,  what is the world coming to,  you expect a couple of kids to be belting along a country lane in a  GTI in a hurry, but, two Nun's well past their sell by date.  Whats the world coming to? When a man needs to vent his fury and gesticulate, he doesn't need to be watched by or direct abuse at nuns !

I get to the front of the queue to wait for the train, head down, thinking Oh my God (no that wouldn't be right, maybe Oh Jesus, nope not that either, maybe just oops).  I'm so glad I took the time to look in the car before saluting.  Just where could they have been going in such a hurry on a lovely evening like this?

So 10 minutes later (good chance to down a gel) and a wry smile I shake my head, as a train enters the station.  Now, heres the next thing, the train always enters the station but the barriers always stay down.  Everyone gets off the train, out of the station and stands by the barrier. The train then leaves the station and barrier goes up.  At this point the road, paths etc are teaming with people.  Surely it would have been better to lift the barriers once the train had passed.  Do we really all need to watch the hot sweaty occupants get off and exit the station.  I'm impatient, god only knows what the sisters in the hot hatch are thinking right now.  They're obviously Nuns on the Run and in a hurry.

I cross the railway tracks, turn left and start to head to Reading.  Clocking up a much more respectively 17mph.  I really should slow down and maybe try to get further.  I've also noticed how little I have been in the saddle by the impact it is having on my behind - hope I can still walk tomorrow.

And for those interested, heres my ride profile, with my huge boost of speed. 134 MPH !