Tuesday, 30 January 2007

A life of two halves

Last week was a week of real contrasts. Some good parts, some bad parts.

I made another trip to my hill at the weekend and went up it without any real dramas at all. Just sat and pedalled to the top. I even managed to get out of the saddle a few times to keep the pace. This is not a sudden transformation into a wonderful hill climber. My physique is still closer to a back-row forward than a hill climber but I am getting better. This particular hill no longer holds any fears for me. Lots of pain, but no fear.

I think in fact that my trips to the hill are going to become a regular thing. Going this way gives me access to some wonderful countryside that is a pleasure to cycle through.

Another pleasure and delightful experience I had this week was going to work through the snow on Wednesday. Now I normally object to snow because it makes travel difficult but on this occasion things worked really well. I had already decided to run to the train station before I knew there was going to be snow. As normal I was up early and found myself running along pristine pavements covered in virgin snow. Everywhere looked different. With the running to keep me warm it didn't even feel cold.

I got a seat on the train and spent the journey watching the world wizz by through the window. The places on the journey that usually seem so dull and dreary were quite magical in the twilight as the sun slowly started to come up. Everything seemed right in the world for that trip and I felt like a little kid again, entranced by the wonderful snow. Even the run through London was enjoyable. The snow seemed to have lifted peoples spirits and my fellow commuters seemed happy for a change.

Of course once I got to work reality kicked in. Most people were late because the snow had delayed their trains. When they did get in they were grumpy and stressed. By the time I went home the snow had melted and London was back to it's old self.

I think what made this journey more magical to me and what makes my weekend rides in the countryside even more enjoyable is the contrast with the journeys I have to make. As well as my happy journey this week I have had to stand the whole way holding my bike because people were sitting in the bike spaces. I have been caught by signalling problems that made my 45 minute train ride take over 2 hours. I have nearly got into a fight with another commuter who started threatening another rider and I when he couldn't sit down because our the fold down seats in the bike storage area can't be used when there are bikes there and he didn't have a seat. I have also had the normal quota of people pushing and shoving. People refusing to look at each other in the eye - it's just not done on trains in London. And don't get me started about work.

Given a choice between that and the hill I would take the hill any day.

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