Sunday 30 October 2016

When three became two

When four became three, I was not filled with glee. When three became two, I knew what I had to do.    

This week saw me complete 3 run commutes into work. Each run was along the towpath. The first run was ran interval style and the other 2 were simple jogs. My pace got progressively slower with each run. My commutes to and from work are what I will miss most when I leave my current job.
After much menace (flat battery, power cuts and flat tyre) my buddy Chris rocked up for a Friday night adventure. For a while I had been excited about going on a wild camp and this was the night that we turned these jolly thoughts into action. Thankfully, Chris is as mad as I and was happy to drive all the way from Windsor so we could crash out in some local woods. We both loaded single-speed cyclo-cross bikes and cycled into the dark, looking for the 'Woods of Doom'. After some undulating tarmac we turned off-road, crossed some field, gently climbed some single-track and found a perfect place to set up our camp under a canopy of trees.
For an autumnal night, the temperature was great - it was really warm. So perfect was the weather, I was still able to cycle and walk around our camp in my SPD sandals. I had recently gotten a tarp (20 quids from Decathlon) but the weather was so great that it wasn't needed. Made use of the tarp though by using it as a ground sheet. We placed our bivy bags on top of the tarp and were able to dump all our stuff. After a quick snack we blew up our air beds and shoved them, alongside sleeping bag into our bivy's. We chatted and drank into the late hours of the night and wrestled with some spiders and other bugs. Rum was my drink of choice, Chris had this stuff that tasted like marzipan.

After a while we climbed into our bags, chatted more and looked up at the night sky. No stars were to be seen as it was cloudy and we were really looking at the tops of trees. The canopy of trees looked panoramic, it was as if I was in a 360 degree sphere like thing. Looking at the trees with the light back ground really felt like we were in a scene from E.T. We chatted until we fell asleep.

When I awoke, I needed to pee. I climbed out of my bag and struggled to walk about 10 paces ahead. I must have drunk a little too much rum. After my comfort break, I couldn't re-trace my steps and was disorientated and lost. After much faffing, I heard Chris call out 'Tim, I hope that's you'. Goodness only knows how I got to this side of the tarp without walking over it to get there. I was able to navigate my way back into my bag but strangely I had lost my sandals. Not the first time I have lost footwear on an adventure with Chris.

Relatively comfy sleep despite waking at often times throughout the night. Strange noises could be heard which was kinda spooky. We heard owls and what sounded like eagles and monkeys too. I could picture rats but these turned out to be squirrels when morning light came. At times, I thought I heard the sound of wolves but it was the barking of a roe deer. All kinda creepy, yet beautiful too. Don't think I'm ready for a solo wild camp just yet...
Needed a further comfort break as morning neared but I didn't want to walk around camp without my sandals. Took Chris and I ages to spot them some distance away. As dawn broke the tree canopy really looked like a kaleidoscope and leaves slowly changed from a grey colour into brighter yellows. Just beautiful. The now visible, sweet and active squirrels could be confirmed as the culprits making noise throughout the night and dropping tree litter from high above.  
Morning provided a great opportunity for me to try my new BRS 3000T titanium camping stove. A fantastic ultralight stove that weighs in at 26g, gets the thumbs up from Ray Mears and cost me less than a tenner (came from China, purchased on eBay). This was the first time I had used gas on a camping trip and it performed just fine. Much cleaner and quicker than my alcohol stove (which I love, just in a different way). My porridge tasted yummy and my green tea was just right. I used a Wildo original fold-a-cup (less than 3 squirrels from Pedal + Tread) which is, as the name suggests, a foldable cup (weighing in at 22g) for my porridge (instead of eating out the bag) which made stirring easier but it lost temperature quickly and left me with an additional item to clean. Cups are easier to hold than bags though and this made sure I didn't get burnt or drop my precious food and make a mess.
Despite this experience being mostly fantastic, my Garmin had gone AWOL which was a real loss. We packed up camp and spent a while searching for Garmin. We followed out tracks but my Garmin was never found. As we ventured home, rain started to gently drop. How great that wet weather stayed away whilst we camped.

Once back at Doo Little, my kind wife cooked us up some cheese on toast complete with Worcestershire sauce. Yummers. Oh, and much tea too. This fuel loading was what we required in preparation for our next adventure. Indeed, my brother Robin had rocked up with his new GT road bike and the open road lay ahead.

Contrary to the title of this blog, two had become three. Rob, Chris and I essentially cycled loops near my village clocking up about 20 miles. We cycled along country lanes in drizzly weather admiring the beautiful autumnal colours. We visited a cafe in Alcester and ate some lovely toasties before returning to Doo Little. A great end to my training week - cycling AND camping. Many thanks to Chris and Rob for making this happen.

With the help of Ron, I managed to sneak in a further ride in on the Sunday. Rob was still down, so the three of us went a-cycling. We cycled the Deer Route and had a great time. Bonus!

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