The Running Man Fellowship

In my younger days I rode a motorbike.  Outside of Shanks’s* it was the only mode of transport available to me that didn’t involve being shouted at by the bus driver because I didn’t have the correct change, and I loved it, even though it made me more familiar than I would truly like with my problematic relationship with the physics of gravity.  It gave me a freedom I had not really felt since my early days of bicycle riding (heading off into the unknown, armed with nothing more than a penny packet of crushed crisps and a half bottle of Tizer).  Provided I had the money for petrol, two-stroke oil and a good glug of Redex, I could go to the coast, I could ride alone and I could ride with my friends.  Mostly, as adulthood crowded in on me, I rode to and from work.  In the winter it got very cold and I went everywhere in multiple layers of clothing.  Inner-gloves, under gloves, under gauntlets.  I wore so many layers around my ‘middle area’ that I couldn’t drink anything, knowing that the peeling required in order to be safely able to pee could take hours.  I have never felt so cold as during my 6am winter rides to work, but still I loved my bike and I continued to love it until a frosty morning face-slap into a tree which left me in hospital having various parts of my face reassembled (I always feel that asymmetry is desirable in a face, don’t you?) with, what on a cold day, feels like a child’s Meccano set.  When I left hospital I learned to drive a car and dreamed about the warm freedom that a car would give me – just as soon as I could afford one.  Sadly the heater seldom worked on my first car (a three-tone – gold, rust and filler – Vauxhall Viva) and the passenger side window wouldn’t shut properly so, more pipe dreams, except that I loved that car and my wife actually cried when it eventually went to the great crusher in the sky… 

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, I was thinking about the motorbikes this morning when I ran because I remembered the ‘fellowship’ that I felt as part of the bike riding community.  All other bikers waved, all other bikers spoke.  Old spoke to young and passed on their bikey wisdom, the young tried to grow a beard and dreamt of losing a front tooth.  If you broke down, you knew that the next bike to come by would stop to help.  And suddenly I realised that my new world of running was a little the same.  I cannot pretend that I love running, but I do miss it if I don’t do it.  It does give me a certain sense of freedom and is one of the few times when I can step outside, anytime from September to May, without feeling cold.  I smile and acknowledge everybody that runs towards me: old, young, experienced, gasping, we all share a cheery, red in the face ‘hello’ as we pass.  I imagine that if I break down, the next runner-by will stop to help me and if I run into a tree, well, at least it won’t be at quite the same speed.  I am a member of a new fellowship, and I now have the hi-viz to prove it.

*To go by Shanks’s Pony – To Walk

The previous running diary instalment ‘The Running Man and the Dogwalkers’ is here.
The next running diary instalment ‘The Running Man and his Playlist’ is here.
This whole sorry saga started here.