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Different strokes.

Well if yesterday turned out nice today turned out to be completely different to what I anticipated.
I had been considering a night on the town last night and a hangover today, along with a trip to the local swimming baths to blow off the cobwebs. However; Danny, my son, had other ideas and called me yesterday to see if I would pick him up from a rave in Birmingham at 05.30am this morning. Being the fool that I am, I agreed! I’ll never learn 😀
And so it was at 04.00am this morning that I dragged my weary bones out of bed, had my usual bowl of cereal/raisins and some fruit juice for breakfast and headed out the door for the hour long drive to Brum.
A quick call in at the (Markeaton) McDonalds Drive-Thru for a Latte should liven me up thinks I and so it did, eventually. However… (there’s a few of those today!) I was beaten to the line by a considerable lady in a 4×4, who proceeded to dilly and dally over the menu for an eternity; I wondered if she was considering whether to have all of the menu or just some of it, but judging by the bag she was handed through the kiosk window I think she went for all of it just in case. And this is at 04.45am on a Sunday morning! By the time I received my much needed caffeine boost a mere 15 minutes had passed, 15 minutes I ask you! 15 minutes is a long time twiddling your thumbs at 04.45am on a Sunday Morning 😀 The queue of cars behind me had reached a biblical 9 by this stage, I wondered what they were all making of it. Not much I should imagine.
Anyhows nothing else of note occurred and I arrived back home at about 07.15am. By 08.30 I was back out the door and burning around the local bridleways on my beloved Mountain Bike (Pegasus; because it’s like a flying horse!) and taking the scenic route to the swimming baths in Ripley.
I whizzed into the car park, propped Pegasus by the bicycle racks and pulled out my lock. However…(Told you!) I couldn’t get the key into the hole and after stubbornly making a number of attempts I drew the conclusion that I may have brought the wrong key. I’m having a bit of trouble with keys this week.
So, putting on my best forlorn face and explaining about my complete lack of any discernible intelligence, I politely asked the young lady behind the counter if I might be permitted to leave Pegasus in the foyer? Hmm… after a brief consultation with the manager it was agreed I could leave it in the kitchen area out of the way. Marvelous. I skipped happily into the changing area and then plunged headlong into the busy pool.
About 10 lengths later I got a twinge of cramp in my left calf, bloody buggery bugger. I pulled up, massaged it for a while and decided to spend 20 minutes or so doing the walking exercise that Dave has been trying, it turns out it’s pretty effective too; although I did get a few strange looks from some of the other swimmers.
Feels OK now thinks I, so I swim some more. 5 1/2 lengths later the right calf knots into a proper spasm and I lunge for the edge of the pool before I drown and try not to cry like a little girl. So that was the end of that.
Half a recovery shake and a latte in the foyer and I’m off on my trusty steed once more. Yay 🙂
A fast blast down the Greenway, a loop of the reservoir, and a few road miles to the fishing tackle shop in Somercotes to drink free tea for a short while. Another fast blast down Somercotes Hill and into Riddings Park for a few laps of the new BMX track with the kids. It’s time I grew up someone said to me recently; not while I’m having this much fun I won’t! Yet another fast blast down into Golden Valley and along Stone Row to the Cromford Canal. Down the towpath, round the reservoir and back onto the towpath once more. A call in at my mate Neil Truscott’s house for more free tea (I like tea) and a refill for my water bottle and I’m off again, up Monument Lane onto the bridleway, past said monument and away towards Aldecar. Half way along I bump into another friend, John Brooks, and we chat briefly before I zoom off down a likely looking track; very steep, very long and very fun. At the bottom it turns in the wrong direction and I have to crawl all the way back to the top. it was worth it though 🙂 Whee! Back on track, down through Langley Mill, along the Erewash Canal towpath and up the long climb from Shipley Boat. I find a way, cough, into the old American Adventure theme park and play around on the stair-sets and drop-offs for a while having loads of fun before lapping the lake and climbing up through the woods in Shipley Country Park. By this time I’m starving having eaten precisely nothing at all since 04.00am. Malnutrition was setting in. I think about calling in at the Visitor Centre for something to eat because by this time I’m fading fast and in danger of never making the last 5 or 6 miles home due to imminent starvation.
In a flash of inspiration I remember the old tea room in the middle of the park; yes that’s the place for me thinks I. The Derby Lodge Tea Room is a wonderful place full of life saving wonders like chocolate cake, or mighty pieces of flap-jack just like the one I picked out from the dazzling display. I stare at it briefly and think to myself that it’s so large I could break a window with it. You wouldn’t want to fire it from your catapult, it would break the elastic!
Down it goes quickly, in case I pass out, washed along with a lovely cup of coffee. I chat for a while with some fellow bicyclists (Is that a real word? I don’t know, but I like making up words that say what I want them to) while I await my main course. Soon it arrives and what a joy it is to behold. Beef Stew and Dumplings. It was the finest meal I’d eaten since breakfast time. In fact it was so nice I ask a passing gentleman to take a photograph of me it with for prosperity’s sake.

Suitably fuelled I once again mount my steed and head off through the park towards home. It’s such a lovely area and I as I pass a ‘chocolate box’ cottage I find I have to stop and take a photograph of it, even though I’ve passed it many times before.

6 3/4 hours since I left the house this morning I roll back on to my front drive.
As I sit here and type this out I find myself still smiling. The sun has shone down on me all day and I have that lovely glow that you get after exercise. Grow up? Not on your Nelly!

I’m still not sure that it’s OK to park your bike in a kitchen though 😀

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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