Sometimes a whole bunch of different people all come together with the intention of not only sharing possibly the only thing they have in common with one another but also of having a nice time come what may. Saturday we went to one such happening, a farewell tour gig by a band we’ve been to see quite a few times now and who have a core of fans who were also as keen as us to get this one last chance, until the next farewell tour at least, to see them play together. Three encores and two hours sleep later I was on my way to the weekend’s second opportunity of a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside, heading over the Pennines, behind me a dismembered bike in the car boot and the first hint of sunrise in the slenderist slither of inky blue daylight somewhere out over the North Sea, to a bike ride in England’s top left hand corner county. A few hours later still, standing in a queue waiting for a finishing certificate, I was struck that never, in the field of human bike riding, can so many wet, cold, tired, dirty people stood in the rain in a muddy field on a dreary Sunday afternoon have been so universally in good spirits.
Maybe it was something in the Cumberland sausages dished out by the burger van, maybe it was relief that our bikes were in one piece after a ride where last minute experiments with large hill friendly cassettes had seen one or two chains and mechs give up well before the rider did, or that we ourselves were still in one piece after rain and broken tarmac on steep bendy lanes meant sadly this was not the case for everyone who started, maybe it was the freshly won or renewed bragging rights or the ability to try on the t-shirt ordered before the ride but superstitiously not yet removed from the sealed package, maybe it was the prospect of warm clothes, warm showers, or just warm anything at all, maybe it was imagining soon not being covered in mud from a field from which many were departing on the end of a tow rope behind a tractor, maybe it was not having to push another single revolution of the pedals for a day or two, maybe it was the smiling route marshalls and encouraging locals braving wind and rain to back the riders, but whatever the origin of the feelgood factor it was the warmest feeling inside I have perhaps ever experienced whilst suffering the symptoms of a borderline case of exposure.