If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Friday 13th survived once again

Wow, what a ride home last night! To start with, torrential rain, which had wet the inside of my visor when I was walking to the bike from my office. Not in itself a problem, I might add, but then there were gusty winds up to, acording to the BBC, 85 mph. The Honda is the worst bike I have ever had for reacting to side-winds (it's all that weather-cheating plastic), so that made the ride a little more entertaining. Then, of course, it was dark, and so visibility was a real problem. I ride home along the A40, which is busy at that time of night with commuters and ferry traffic, and I was facing a constant stream of headlights. Normally, the visor will clear of raindrops if you can get up to a decent speed. Self-cleaning seems to happen at about 55-60 mph, but there was no hope of achieving that last night. So I was wiping the visor constantly, but to no avail, because the worst of the water drops were on the inside. Every approaching light was refracted into a hundred small points of light across my area of vision, which gave me no chance to adapt my eyes to see the detail of the darker bits. And, of course, the dark bits are where the hazards lie.

After all the rain of the afternoon, the road was covered in water, and in places the puddles spread from the verges to meet in the middle - and this is the A40, remember, the main road into West Wales. I tried to travel in the centre of the road to avoid plunging into deep water, but that put me directly in line with the bow-waves thrown up by vehicles travelling the other way. It was almost comic, like having buckets of water thrown over you. There was so much spray being thrown up by the car tyres that all cars were invisible below the window-line.

It was, you might say, conducive to concentration. In fact, I would say that it was the worst conditions I have ever ridden in. Colleagues can't believe that a sane human being (or even me) would want to ride a bike in weather like this. I was constantly fending off comments all day:

Bet you're not on the bike today, har har.
But of course.

OK, it was a bit of a challenge, but then physical challenges are quite rare these days, what will all the safety rules and the we-must-eliminate-all-risk lobby. I admit it, I enjoyed it.

And, of course, if I had gone to work in the Mundaneo, I wouldn't be writing this.

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