Between expectation and reality sits happiness. Lower one, raise the other, and bingo, you’re in paradise. This is where I went wrong. There was an error in my happy maths. September can do this to a cyclist.
I began my calculations on a Sunday when my weather app of choice showed a warm, sunny week laid out before us.
Wednesday was my birthday – it’s yer birthday, take the day off, went the refrain from work colleagues, and so I did. Kids at school, wife at work, leaving me with a lovely day to work with.
Et voila; birthday bike ride.
As I fiddled and fettled my bike, Tuesday evening, in prep, the Wednesday of my imagination was pure glory. I would ride up into Cumbria, take in a couple of big climbs, civilised stop at Chesters by the River (which is, as it sounds, where the comfortable middle classes go to lunch), and pedal home.
A hundred miles. Tan lines re-defined. Tank emptied. An extra, bonus, special edition bike ride to tag on to the end of summer 2019.
The happy maths fully loaded on one side.
Come Wednesday, treated to coffee and birthday cards in bed and kids requesting cake for breakfast, the bedroom curtains were peeled back for the big reveal: it’s just a spot of early morning cloud, I confirmed, it’ll burn off, I clarified, nothing to worry about, I hoped.
I felt a chill. Not a portent of doom but an actual chill. It was chilly. In my bedroom. Hmm, I thought to myself.
Two hours passed. Kids bundled off to school, wife working, and me, still in pyjamas, gazing dolefully at the spitting rain and the dark skies. This is all wrong, I thought, but we’re in September, which made it about right.
Reluctantly, I layered up. Warm socks, base layer, long sleeved jersey, windproof gilet, gloves. Lunch in Chesters out of the question; it’s eleven o’clock now, the moment’s gone. I pointed myself north-west in the direction of Grange-over-Sands, a sixty mile return trip with a variety of options and escape routes.
Classic autumn ride.
Tan lines a moot point.
Ten degrees Celsius.
I was promised eighteen, I brooded on a loop, in time with my sluggish pedal stroke. Any wind an apparent headwind, figuratively and literally. Twenty miles in came the reappearance of an old saddle sore. A physical manifestation of my mood; red, slightly angry, hidden from view but ready to have it’s two penn’orth.
My happiness in deficit.
I returned home, late afternoon, having reduced a wonderful, blustery, cobweb-clearing autumnal ride to the status of exercise. Functional, fitness maintaining, mileage. I dabbed antiseptic onto my angry rear-end and absorbed the lesson.
A D-minus in happy maths.
Could do better.