Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Riding in the Dark

The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light.


Lord Byron

For weeks now I have been getting up in the dark, cycling to work in the dark only to return in the dark. When I started this winter comuting, it all seemed a bit of a novelty but as the days have got shorter its becoming a real test.
To make matters worse the black cloak that comes with the setting sun has definitely got darker.

I am fine with the dark....honest but am not too keen on the four miles stretch along an isolated country lane.
Its amazing how your imagination plays games with you.
Although I am certain that the rustle I heard in the undergrowth is only a rabbit, once my imagination has processed it I am off...........

Pedaling as fast as my legs will pump into the darkness in certain belief that there is some cycle chomping goblin chasing me.
The other thing that gets me is when a cars headlights suddenly illuminate the road in front of me.
I either count the seconds until I believe he will undoubtedly hit me from behind or look into the illuminated area ahead for mad axe man that has just escaped from the sanatorium.
Both scenarios show a spike of my heart rate on my 'post cycle' Garmin reading.

To try and combat my nocturnal fears I have bought some more lights.
I now have several.
Helmet - front and rear lights
Coat - front and rear lights
Handlebars -Light shining straight ahead and light shining onto kerb ahead of me.
Two rear lights and LED lights strapped on my ankles.

I guess If I do get knocked over the driver will say 'He was blinded by the lights'

As I write about darkness I am reminded about a different darkness that often fills peoples lives.
The darkness associated with bereavement, separation, illness and poverty.

One of our Mules Taylor Bartholemew has had such a darkness which hangs like a shadow over her

At the age of 3 1/2 she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common type of leukemia in children under the age of 15, and progresses rapidly, affecting immature white blood cells (lymphocytes).

When she was sick, her doctor performed immediate injections into her spinal column, which were coupled with blood transfusions from her mother as the donor to replace the damaged blood. She spent weeks in isolation in hospital and then several months in isolation at home as her immune system had been destroyed.
After two years of oral and intravenous medications, and weekly blood tests, she had completed her treatment.
By the age of 5, she beat ALL (just in time to start kindergarten BALD!!)

She is now in her TWENTY SECOND year of remission!!! and is as fit as a butchers dog.
She is a regular rider of the Travels with my Mule Team but also rides for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (TNT) Charity.

She is an inspiration to many myself included and it makes getting up in the dark all the more easier.

Next year she plans to complete a 100 miles sportive around Lake Tahoe to raise money for TNT.
We (Mule Team) all think she is an absolute star.

If you want to support her for this event follow this link = Taylor

1 comment:

jeff said...

Philip, I have a buddy who rides with TNT in SoCal, and who says the Tahoe ride is one of the most beautiful he has done.

On a solo trip on the Katy Trail I left before dawn on the way home, and I rode in the moonlight through the forest. I can totally relate to the noises you hear.