Sunday, 13 February 2011

Smurf Cycling

     The British summer, it has been said, consists of two fine days and a thunderstorm.
It was day 151 of our cycling and camping trip throughout Europe and my cycling companion, M and I were headed to our next campground in Chester, England. The morning started out in the usual manner – cool and humid. I longed for some hot, dry weather but we left that quite some time ago in Greece. Rising from our sleeping bags within the tent, we shivered and struggled to put on damp riding clothes before making our ‘must-have’ hot cup of coffee.
          Besides the inclement weather, I was also a bit disappointed in not meeting many other cyclists on the road which, I suppose, the poor weather may have been a factor. We were often the only cyclists in the campgrounds and even though there were motorhomes camped near by, I found the RV folks huddled together - which is understandable as I probably would do the same if I camped beside fellow cyclists. Also, the roads were often narrow with no wide shoulders and so one couldn't safely ride and have a lengthy conversation with their riding partner.  
     On this particular morning, we were riding under a threatening and dark sky. Cars on the roads were scarce and the only sound was the quiet noise of our bike's tires on the pavement. A movement caught my eye as we were rounding a bend in the road. As I came alongside a gate in a farmer’s field, I saw a herd of cows standing approximately 10 meters from the fence. I stopped and then, in unison, the cows walked over and just stood at the gate and stared at me.
     I was ecstatic and I immediately started talking with them. Of course they didn’t say anything back but a few of them nodded as if they understood what this Crazy Canuck was talking about. I glanced behind me to see if M was watching. She was and there was a look on her face that clearly showed that she was trying to guess my I.Q. But I really didn’t care as I enjoyed talking with others, be it cows or anybody else who would listen to me.
     After a few minutes of me rambling on about the weather, the nice people in England and asking how their farmer boss was treating them, we resumed our ride. It started to rain not too long after and so we stopped and dressed into our rain gear including rain pants and booties over our shoes. I also put on my blue coloured rain jacket and a blue helmet cover. I was told by numerous people over the years that I looked like a Smurf in my cycling rain gear.
     Riding a few kilometers onwards, we rounded another bend in the road and would you believe my luck as there was another herd of cows – this time, they were right beside the fence. I rode up to them, stopped and was going to chat with these teenager cows but when they had a good look at me, they immediately turned and bolted in the opposite direction. They ran approximately 20 meters and then in unison, stopped, turned their heads and looked back. They stared at me for about 10 seconds and then took off again and didn’t stop running.
     All I could chalk this event up to was that these adolescent cows had never seen a Smurf before. I slowly got back on my bike, started pedaling and resumed talking to myself.    

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