Monday, 13 December 2010

It's cold... and hard!

The arctic conditions of late had abated, just enough for us to feel that it would be fruitful to attempt a training run.

The landscape seems to have changed so much in the couple of weeks since we were out last. The trees and hedgerows are bare now leaving skeletons to pass through the winter months. Where these dividing lines and gracious monuments were opaque just weeks ago, with neighbours obscured and lanes darkened, they are frayed now and transparent. You can see through to a wider vista. I like the new lines and the bare trees standing stark against the sky, the light falling to the earth beneath them and it is good, at this time of year, to be requainted with the holly and ivy which stand steadfast and unchanged. The hollow winter sunshine flickered and reflected as we rode down quiet lanes with only a flurry of birds for company.

It felt good, at least at the beginning; being out in the fresh, clear air was uplifting and put a distinct smile on my face. After 25 miles that smile had turned to more of a grimace as the effects of two weeks of inactivity came home to roost. It seems that our hard-gained fitness is easily lost with a winter lay off, the fluidity and ease of movement that was so casually evident the last time we were out has now subsided into a struggle and an ache. Feet, hand and legs were feeling the effort.

As we passed through Market Bosworth and around the Yachting lake, through Far Coton we chanced upon a horserider, mounted and struggling to hold on to another horse which was riderless. It looked from a distance as though one rider had dismounted and taken to the hedgerow to answer the call of nature; as we got closer we realised it was something altogether more serious. What looked like a tree trunk lying half across the road was in fact a fallen rider. We stopped and offered assistance, a cell-phone if needed and anything else we could do. The fallen rider was a girl, maybe 12 or 13, apparently a pheasant had dashed out from the hedge and spooked the horse, resulting in the girl being thrown off. She lay there quite still, her face muddied and one of legs twisted awkwardly, she was holding her side and looked distinctly shaken. We soon established that she had not broken anything, she seemed shaken but not dizzy and was able to speak coherently - she had landed on her side and her hip felt sore but soon after she was on her feet. We again offered the use of a phone, maybe she wouldn't feel like climbing back onto the horse? - but no, she was okay, and we continued on having done our best.

The final ten miles felt tough, the cold was biting through gloves and socks and any hill seemed long and steep... It was a relief to get back home and reaquaint myself with the joy that is a woodburning stove.

42 miles today

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