Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekend musings

All through this weekend I kept having the thought, "ooh, this is SO going on the blog!"
and now I can't remember what half of it was. I'm sure i thought it was important at the time. What is important now is that my faulty memory has become my editor, so you're getting the benefit of reading the condensed version, with all the extra, unnecessary bits conveniently forgotten.

Cycled to the Pirate's after work. The first 16 miles is more or less level, but of the last 9, 6 are uphill. Ouch.
Cool Thing That Happened On The Cycle Ride, Part I:
I was leaving Bristol via the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path. I was still within the city, and up ahead of me I saw a motorcycle. There were 2 teenagers on it, and a third climbing on. Fucking punks. Motorized vehicles are NOT allowed on the path. If I wanted to play chicken in traffic I'd use the fucking roads -- they're a lot more direct. I passed by them, trying not to make eye contact. Then I heard the engine rev behind me, and they came tearing past me. They disappeared quickly into the darkness, since they were moving fast and had no lights on. I stopped and got out my mobile phone.
"999 emergency. What service do you require?"
I waited while they connected me.
"Avon and Bristol Constabulary. How can help?"
"I'd like to report 3 youths riding a motorcyle on the Bristol-Bath cycle path near Whitehall road."
"3 youths on a moped?"
"Not a moped, a full-on motorcycle. Traveling east-bound at approximately 25 miles an hour, with no lights on."
"Can you describe the youths?"
"No, but would you like the number plate?"
"You got the registration number???"
"X-ray eight eight niner, bravo alpha mike."
"Ah. That motorcycle was reported stolen this evening."
After a few more details, describing the teenagers, giving a more precise location, and my personal details, I hung up feeling a tad smug. Also a tad nervous, as they had headed up the path in the direction I was traveling and I was worried about encountering them again.

And I did.
About 10 minutes later I head the whine of a motorcycle engine coming toward me. I knew they were riding without lights, so I immediately pulled off onto the grass. A second later I saw them. They whizzed past me and made a sharp right turn, off the cycle path and onto a road. I didn't know the name of the road, but there was a middle-aged couple walking nearby.
"Excuse me. Do you know the name of this street?"
They did, and the nearest cross street. I got out my phone again.
After the momentary rigamarole I said to the operator "I just phoned a few minutes ago about a motorcyle on the Bristol-Bath cycle path."
"Yes," said the helpful operator. "I remember you." Thank heavens. By a stroke of luck I'd got the same woman.
"I just wanted to let you know that I've seen them again. They came back on the cycle-path west-bound, then got off it and are heading west-bound on Colston Road from [whatever] Street."
"Oh! Super! Thank you for that information."
"You're very welcome."
As I hung up the phone I heard a siren go on not more than 2 blocks away from me and heading in the direction I had described. Yes!!! Go get 'em, Smokey! I let out a cheer. I hope they nailed those little shits to the wall.

(I'm kinda bummed they never called me in to ID a line-up, though. That would have been cool.)

Now feeling extremely, insufferably smug, I continued on my way. It was completely dark before I even left the house, and eventually I came out of the city bit, where there are street lights illuminating the path, and into the more desolate suburbs. Further and further into the countryside I traveled, and the darkness became more and more complete.

It was cold; very cold. Only 1 degree C by the thermometer, and wind chills making it feel below freezing. All I could see was the cone of light from my (amazing, utterly bust-ass) headlamp shining on the path and the trees on either side of me. I looked up and saw a full moon shining above me in a barren, cloudless sky. That gave me an idea. I turned off my headlamp.

It wasn't dark at all. I could see quite well by the moonlight. Everything was beautiful shades of blue and grey, the moon casting stark shadows of the bare tree branches across my path. ("Whose woods these are, I think I know...") Without my headlamp, the rabbits and foxes paid me no more heed than were I a passing deer running deftly through the woods, and they did not flee from my approach. I passed over the river several times, and saw it create a perfect, silent, unmoving black line through the white fields, which were already becoming bright and shimmery with frost. ("Between the woods and frozen lake...") It was beautiful and haunting. I felt as though I was the only person alive on the planet, and not in the least bit afraid. I was exhilerated by the sheer emptiness, the vacant, life-less feeling of my surroundings.

Finally I began to put some effort in to warm my body up. I had layers upon layers, but I knew I would get chilled if I didn't keep working. I still had more than an hour of riding before reaching the warm arms of the Pirate. I put my headlamp back on and put the hammer down. (And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.")


Tabby Rabbit said...

You're mad. Or completely fearless. Or both... I would have thrown myself into the side of the bikepath and then hidden from the thugs on a bike. And then cried because it was dark and I was alone.

But that's just me.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

certainly mad in the sense of angry. there are frequently kids tearing up and down that path on tiny little motor scooters and things. i always report them, as they are a nuissance and a danger. most of them probably never get caught, but at least it creates a string of complaints in a police file somewhere, which i'm hoping will eventually lead to a better police presence on that path.

i'm not afraid of the dark. only the things IN the dark. and once you're away from all the people there's absolutely nothing that can hurt you. it's wonderful!

FirstNations said...

i remember sneaking out and riding my bicycle around the neiborhood by moonlight. it was mysterious and wonderful thanks for bringing the memory back!

good for you for calling the cops!

you'd have fun here tonight...the first snow just started falling and everything is full of silver light. i'm feeling a little giddy about it..snow at night is so beautiful and secret.

Dave said...

Glad you remembered the number of the emergency services over here.

Lorna said...

You crimebuster, you! Well done - is there a new a new career as a hard-bitten, Old-English-reading straight-talking cop type on the horizon?

Frobisher said...

Bristol is a crime-ridden place isn't it? doesn't seem to have changed since I lived there.

nice post

Chaucer's Bitch said...

FN: Ooh, snoooooooooooooooow! I want snow! I want snow, now! Pirate and I are going up to his grandmother's house in Cumbria for Xmas day. Fingers crossed for snow in the sheep country.

Dave: Indeed. To help me remember I think of a funny joke told to me by a 4-year-old:
-What happens if you dial "666" on the phone?
-The police arrive up-side down!

Lorna: can't be bothered with the cop training, but i'll always do my best to give the boys in blue a hand when i can.

frobi: it's worse than manchester. seriously. but manchester's got a bad rep because it's poor. brizzle's all posh and shit so no one thinks of it as a crime hot spot, but it so is.

hendrix said...

and promises to keep?

The thing I hate most about living in the city are the streetlights, so I'm really envious of your moonlit bike ride, it was so beautifully described - thank you.

Oh and well done on shopping the kids to the cops. Very brave of you - I'm not sure I'd have been so brave.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

HC: your sense of foreshadowing is uncanny. stay tuned to this station to find our more about promises...

homo escapeons said...

Thank Heavens that you didn't get all Jody Foster on them..have you seen The Brave One? It's basically Bronson's Death Wish for Ladies.

Did you feel the paradigm shift in your psyche when you called in those little bastards...
those 'young' punks...
welcome to the us v them generation gap...

although your healthy lifestyle will still raise suspicions about whose side you're really on.