Me versus Mother Nature

by tkos on August 12, 2012

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A wind so strong that you’d have to lean forward just to walk straight, let alone cycle. Every pedal is like a giant step forward, only to gain a couple of inches because the gear is on the lowest possible setting. Thirteen hours to move 80km. Plants grow quicker than that. To our right, kite surfers are having the time of their lives in the sea. Oncoming cyclists travelling at 45km per hour without pedalling give you the ‘you poor bastard’ look. Weather does not get any worse than the trip back from den haag in holland and now that I’ve done it, it can only make me fear nothing.  There is no wind that will ever compare. I’ve gone against the great battle of nature, the battle of my mind and the battle for my body. And I won. I didn’t give up. I conquered. I am now built and prepared for anything that nature can throw at me and my bike. But I never accounted for the weather in England….

Awaken by a slap in the face by the lining of my tent, something tells me that this may not be an easy day. The sound of hail and hurricane winds storm through the tent as Kimmi creeps further down in her sleeping bag. This is the morning after our first ever night camping. We’ve awoken on the edge of a lake in Northumbria national park and the skies are grey. The water in the lake looks more like surf and the rain from the night has turned the ground to mush. Getting out of the sleeping bag was not easy.

On the road and the aim is to get to somewhere in the lake district, on the other side of the country. We’re at the north end of the park, not far from the Scottish border. As it was so high and hard to get to yesterday, we’re looking forward to some downhill strolls. But as it turns out, that just didn’t happen.

The wind of holland had come back and pushed violently straight against us. I’d battled this wind before and I had beaten it. Not easily, but was triumphant in victory and I was proud. The wind had come back for round two and this time it had brought with it some friends. Brothers in fact, called Hills and Hail.

I’d quite like to call them mountains but to be fair, they are probably technically known as hills. And it’s not even that they were so high, it’s just that they were relentless. And mean. Just when you thought you were getting to the top, it would just keep going around the corner, just a little more. And when you got to the top of that, it went a little further. But eventually, you’d have the joy of going downhill. That’s when the wind would kick in and truly show force. To the point that if you didn’t pedal, you wouldn’t move. And then when you gave it your all (and this should be the time to get your breath back as you’ve just cycled your way to what feels like Everest base camp), the rain kicks in and hits you in the face. So much so, that you can’t look straight. It wasn’t rain, it was hail. And it hurt. Not in an annoying way, in a way where I’d physically scream out in pain. But I was determined to go on. I was determined to once agin become victorious and not give in and be beaten by the Battle of Britain.

The new bags we bought to test had failed dismally and were hanging on by bungee cords. I was carrying five bags and kimmi was carrying one. Not that I was being a gentleman, because that would just be stupid, but because my bike was set up for it and I was too lazy to set hers up before we left. I hate irony.

So there I was, braving the cold winds, the storming hail and the relentless hills. Hour after hour, hill after hill and kimmi and her lightened load had taken off in front of me to be a mere dot on the horizon, always a hill away. It was then that I faced my moment of truth. Decision time as to whether I could move on or if I should collapse on the spot and hope that the ground would bury me into a deep dark whole that would have been warmer and drier. I stood next to my bike, dripping wet, freezing and sweating simultaneously. Taking a moment to catch my breath when a door swings open from a little cottage to reveal and local man. “Cup o’ tea?” he so blissfully asks as his son peered over the swing door. It was an opening of warmth, an area of dryness and it would probably come with a cookie. I look back to the road ahead and see kimmi powering along with her one bag bike, cruising over the hill tops amidst the dark clouds, miserable rain and gale force winds. I peer at the local man and his invitation of British victory and my personal defeat…..

I miss the gentle breeze of Holland.

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