Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Great Depression

It would, I thought to myself at breakfast this morning, be very easy to feel a bit miserable with life today. Not just me, anybody that is. Look at what's going on round us; regardless of your politics, it's pretty indisputable that the economy is not in a good way (and some of us think its long term prospects are even worse); the weather is shocking, and there isn't an end in sight to the current hideousness, including over the Easter break; and perhaps not quite in the same league, England's much-vaunted cricket and rugby teams have been/are being massive disappointments at the moment. (Though at least the rugby team were beaten by the Land of My Father's [my apostrophe], which lessens the pain just a little).

Things aren't necessarily better on a more personal level; most significantly a number of friends have got parents who are very seriously ill (and thoughts are regularly with them); less significantly I seem to spend more and more time being low level grumpy with the world, and being frustrated at the slow pace that future plans are taking to be executed.

But then I thought, maybe things aren't so bad. The weather may well be rubbish up to and including next weekend, but four days off work is, well, four days off work; me and Mrs Monmarduman had a lovely time last night hosting some good friends (and I made an a*s* of myself trying another eating challenge; downing a tablespoon of cinnamon in one mouthful - don't do it kids, it's not big or clever, and may leave you coughing, spluttering, retching, and gasping for air. Still, at least your friends will be amazed and impressed with your bravado and fearlessness - that's what laughing and pointing normally means I believe); and yes, I've done some exercise.

It's just over three months now till I and Mendip Rouleur arrive in the Pyrenees for a little Tour de France watching, and a lot of hill cycling, including a monster one-day ride called the Devil's Pitchfork, so named because the pitchfork shape represents the day's route profile. Accordingly, when it's too cold and/or dangerous to go road riding, as it has been round here this weekend with both the Cheshire Cat sportive (which I wasn't entered in), and the Chirk 200 Audax (which I was) being postponed, I ought to get in the garage, and do some planned, disciplined, targeted sessions on the indoor trainer.

Ought shmought. It's been way too interesting round here this weekend to not go out and take a look at what's been going on in the hills and forests. We haven't had a vast snowfall round here, but we have had 48 hours of ferocious wind which, when they've not been ripping ridge tiles of my roof (grrr, another job), have been creating fantastic snowdrifts any place which is even slightly exposed. Consequently, whilst the traffic has never stopped flowing outside our front door, within 500 yards of where I'm writing this there have been cars marooned for two days in drifts:

And further afield by a matter of only a mile or so, the drifts are so enormous - 8 to 10 feet in places - that with the current forecast it's hard to see how people are going to get out of their house other than on foot for the next week or so. The pic doesn't quite convey it, but here's one of those drifts:

Just beyond the trees is a pub, so they should be ok for a a day or two. Anyway, I took these pics when I was out running yesterday, as I have been again today. I was tethered to the house yesterday morning for domestic reasons, but got out for two hours yesterday afternoon, and another couple of hours earlier today. The aggregate stats are 23.5 miles run, with 3700 feet of ascent, but those don't even begin to tell the story. As soon as I got beyond a couple of miles from home, scenes like the one above occurred every couple of hundred yards. Quite often the drifts have still been building as the wind has continued to whip the snow across the hills and fields. There were stretches of 200 yards at a time where the banks of snow were hedge or wall height without any way round them, so you had a choice of trying to pick your way precariously along the top of a dry stone wall, or sink up to your hips in the drift trying to make forward progress.

In other words, it was a hoot. I'm not sure how much training value from a cycling point of view there is in running up hills and extricating yourself from six feet of snow, but having run a distance reasonably close to a marathon in under 24 hours over two expeditions (because that's what they felt like) separated only by a rather nice bottle of Shiraz and six hours of sleep I'm exhausted and exhilarated. Also stiff as a board and with hips that feel like they've been sandpapered.

However, the onset of the Great Depression of the aborted spring of 2013 can wait just a little longer.

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