Today dawned bright and beautiful over our campsite in a field next to the YMCA in Phoenixville, PA. After yet another hearty breakfast we set out through gorgeous countryside into Amish country. Even though the images are familiar from “Witness” I still got a kick out of seeing men in broad-brimmed hats sitting in tidy little horse-pulled carriages or working in fields behind horse-pulled ploughs. Favorite sighting was a little boy in a scaled-down broad-brimmed hat whizzing along on his human-propelled scooter, his left leg working energetically.
The undulating countryside was beautiful. A gentle breeze sent down showers of autumn leaves from the trees that in places lined our route, and it felt joyful to be alive. I was riding with a new friend called Courtney, who works in the ornithology department at Cornell University. We had a slightly ragged start to the day – she had a slight fall at a junction, and there were a few extra stops before we got into our stride.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last. By early afternoon ominous dark clouds were gathering, and as we were sitting outside a New Strasbourg creamery for a well-earned break, the heavens opened. We retreated inside from the torrents, and indulged in all manner of fudge, ice cream, caramel popcorn and other sweet indulgences. Ah, the benefits of burning off 2000 calories a day on a bicycle!
Feeling rather queasy and sugar-high, we set off once again down the puddle-strewn road. Shortly afterwards I had a mishap. I was riding along with Courtney and another woman. They were in front as we sped down a long downhill to try and gain enough momentum to get up the other side of the valley. At the bottom of the hill was a bridge where the road suddenly turned from pavement into an open metal mesh like a cheese-grater. A car overtook me, and slowed behind my two companions on the bridge. At top speed I suddenly had to brake to avoid running into the back of the car. My bike started to weave…. and splat! My bike and me found ourselves sprawled across the road.
It could have been worse. If I hadn’t been wearing a bike helmet, for example. I felt the impact as my head hit the road and my helmet cracked. My left knee looked quite spectacularly gory. I also had abrasions on my knuckles and left elbow. But nothing hurt, and I was able to ride the remaining 10 miles of the day with no problems. A hot shower washed away most evidence of my inelegant fall. And I was hugely relieved to find that my iPhone, strapped to my arm for convenience, had survived intact.
And it provided good material for my presentation tonight – a joke about how people often ask me if ocean rowing is dangerous, but I’ve suffered more damage today than in nearly a year accumulated time on the ocean. I like to tell people that we don’t have to suffer for a greener future – it is perfectly possible to live a more sustainable lifestyle without any detriment – but today I felt I did more than my fair share of sacrifice for the cause!
As I write this, No Impact Man (who was also riding with us today) is showing his film. I’d love to see it, but I’m very sleepy and it was a straight choice between blogging or watching the film before my eyelids close resolutely for the night. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see it some other time.
Today’s stats: 64 miles, 1789 calories, 1 minor splat!
Please do check out the FANTASTIC photos from the Climate Ride official photographer, Kip Pierson at climateridelive.org. VERY highly recommended!
Please note: the Climate Ride organizers have plenty of spare cycle helmets, so I will have a new one to use tomorrow. Safety first!
Apologies for not including more hyperlinks to the various website – but the internet connection here is horrendously slow (positively Pacific-like) and my pillow is calling me… now past 11pm and breakfast is at 6.30 tomorrow morning! And I’ve got some healing to do…