In some of my other blogs you will have read that in general I like to cycle alone but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends, or indeed friends that also share my passion for road cycling. One such friend is affectionately known in my circle as Smurph. I have known this guy since we were 14 years old, bombing about parks and car parks on our mountain bikes. He was a master at building ramps and he taught me how to bunny hop. After many years sabbatical where cycling was replaced by girls and beer we now try to meet up as often as we can to do epic cycles. The only problem with that is that he lives in Glasgow and I live in Aberdeen so it always involves forward planning. Last year I designed an epic route that would start near Perth, a mid-point for us both.
It was late February and when I woke up at 5am. One look out the window at my car told me that it was frosty and within ten minutes of driving, I was heading straight through a blizzard. I told myself that it would clear up and we would be fine. As the sun came up the snow abated. I met Smurph in the car park of an anonymous hotel and after a quick debate about the merits of cycling in these temperatures and the risk of ice on the road we set out. And then took a wrong turn that led us up the side of the wrong mountain. Upon realising our mistake we bombed back down to where we should have been.
Back on the right road, it went into some dense forest and when we were climbing up a rather innocuous bump in the road I lost my back wheel and the bike slid out from under me. With no time to brace for impact the side of my face took the brunt of the impact against the cold tarmac. Simultaneously, Smurph fell at exactly the same spot but with cat-like reactions had managed to spare himself any major injuries. Also my glasses broke and I loved those glasses. After tossing the frames in disgust down a ditch we decided that it would be foolish to continue and instead we should carefully head back to town and warm up with some lunch.
My face was decidedly becoming less and less aero as the lump below my eye grew in size and by the time we sat down for lunch it was a bulbous, throbbing and bloody mess. The drive home was only really accomplished thanks to copious amounts of painkillers.
I got literally no sympathy from my partner when I got home and she did have a point that cycling in those conditions was foolish. We were lucky that nothing worse happened considering some of the fast descends.
The various meetings I had at work the following week were certainly interesting having to explain why there was a lump with my face on it.
Fast forward six months and a few WhatApp’s messages to arrange the most suitable date we were going to tackle the route again without the dangers of ice. Again we each drove to the anonymous car park at the start of the route but this time it was only a light sprinkle of rain and mist that we had to contend with instead of ice. We passed the point we both fell last time with no drama except to laugh at the spot and wonder if my glasses were still in the ditch and from then we got to see what we missed the last time. It was a beautifully curated cycle that took us up to the top of INSERT NAME and then down the other side where the curse struck with a vengeance. We were flying down the side of the mountain, a technical descent made worse by the wet roads and I was leading us down.
I overcooked a corner and just managed to stay upright and on the road, I looked around to see if Smurph had made the same misjudgement as myself only to find that instead of following the curvature of the road he was going straight off the side of the road and literally flew off the side and into the vegetation.
It was as spectacular as it was disastrous. I knew immediately that our cycle was over, not even halfway through and on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. After retrieving him and his mangled bike back up to the road and assessing the damage I managed to thumb a couple of cars to take us to the nearest town.
Luckily that nearest village had a paramedics station and my friend was soon to be lying on the floor on top of blankets and starting to shiver. Eventually an ambulance arrived and we both went to hospital to see what the actual damage was. To cut a long story short he had messed up his shoulder and I didn’t get home until 9pm.
I think without even vocalising it we mutually agreed that we were just not meant to ever finish this route and that it is probably cursed.