Ever watched the Magnificent Seven? Sixties movie-making at its finest, and I know it was derived from a Japanese story, but Westerns are so much better really.
There is a great bit where some young kids are starting to hero-worship one of the gunslingers, decrying their own fathers as cowards. The hero defends them by saying he could never shoulder the burden of responsibility that parenthood brings, and that anyone can be a gun for hire.
So it was that it fell to me to assemble my son's new bed, from four, yes four, large (we are talking bigger than me) boxes yesterday. I had procrastinated long enough, about two weeks to be more precise, and could not delay it any longer. I'm not going to rant about it, but it did take me most of the late afternoon and evening of Saturday to get the thing assembled.
I say "bed", but it's more of a live-in bunk cum-desk-futon station. Don't ask, suffice to say it was a late and very grumpy me that finally got round to planning the route for today's ride with the ACG. I had planned an alternative Sunday, involving 92 miles in Worcestershire, taking in the Malvern Hills. One of my lifetime ambitions is to cycle there, it dates back to my time with Britannia.
Every time I drove up and down the M5 to and from Leek, I would see them poking out of the flatlands in the distance and think that would be a great place to go riding. So when I saw a CTC ride there I thought that might make a good place for a quiet ride to contemplate life, the universe and everything. But it would involve a very early start, early night and that was probably incompatible with the flat-pack bed situation.
So when Steve e-mailed a reminder about an ACG ride, it didn't take much to persuade me, although I did fancy something different, and he suggested the Quantocks. Missus. Open goal, sorry. The ride I suggested was this gem. I did say that it was a flexible plan and so it proved.
With all the seven pistoleros assembled in the Square at 9AM, it some pretty dense fog and significant chill, it was apparent that not everyone had time for 75 miles. By the time we had got over the levels, up over the Polden Hills and into, and then around, Bridgwater, and up the not inconsequential Enmore Hill, I knew I didn't have the legs or lungs, for Crowcombe either.
We all contented ourselves with the lovely views of the landscape, the slightly quirky proprietor, and the bacon sandwiches in the Pines Cafe at the top of the hill. Martyn, who I inadvertently called Bryan last time I was out with him, even met up with some other cyclists he knew.
Sorry there are no action shots, not too good on the iPhone camera on the go. But the views from the hills were great, and the colours of the trees are also just starting to come into their own.
I haven't been riding much since France and my Mum's death, and I have also had a nasty lurgy which refuses to totally leave my lungs. I went to see the Asthma nurse (this is not the start of a joke BTW) and she increased my steroid dose for a few weeks to see if we can kill it off.
All of this means I am short of cycling fitness and lung capacity. So by the time we had descended to North Petherton and starting bombing across the levels again, it was all I could do to just hold on. We headed along the road next to the river as far as Burrowbridge, during which time a few of the group seemed intent on turning the ride into a team time trial.
We eased off a bit after that, for the sake of me if no-one else (oh the privilege of being a ride leader!), and rode in a line all the way to Pedwell, where we fragmented a bit before coming together on the other side of the hill.
Martyn and Trevor peeled off at Westhay, leaving Steve and Figgy to lead us over Mudgley Hill and play rabbit-chasing through Clewer and wait for the three of us slow-coaches at Sharpham Road. And that was pretty much that, by the time I got home I'd done just over 64 miles, at an average of 16.1 mph. Charlie gave up the ghost after the Quantocks, but we broadly followed the route above.
I sure am tired, and it can't be from over-training. It was a lovely day today, after the mist cleared and the sun came out to play it was nigh on perfect cycling weather, Goldilocks and all that. And the company was great too. As you can see from the pictures we are all knocking on a bit, and have considerably less olive oil than we used to, and certainly less than him.
But the company was great, the riding good and the scenery a bit different. Let's do more of that over the next few rides. Chepstow anyone?