Today began well – a cycle in the Lincolnshire countryside – what could possibly go wrong?
The plan was to do a 'Cheadle' and go for a ride with no real idea of where I was going. Well, having no idea of where I was going would be slightly crazy, I had a basic idea in mind. So I set off on one of the stereotypical, long, flat Fenland roads. This road went on and on. In my head the plan was to turn left at the end, do another left and ultimately find myself heading in roughly the right direction. It didn't quite turn out like that.
After about 5 miles I did indeed reach the end of the road, but that is exactly what it was. The end of the road. After a little bit of hunting about I realised I had a decision to make. Either head back the way I had come…
…or go off road and see what the Thurlby Fen Slipe Nature Reserve had to offer….
I chose the off road option which involved a couple of miles or so on trails. It was quite a nice little section, a few stiles that needed negotiating, but overall it was going well. It even seemed that the trail was actually heading in the right direction. That was until I reached a dead end and had to head back to the last place that offered me an escape from the trail. It was ANOTHER stile, and not just a stile, but a stile followed directly by a very steep bank. Great.
Having reached the top of the bank I realised I was on a river footpath, to my left were cows. A big herd of cows. I'm not particularly good with cows, I've had a couple of near death experiences in the past. However, I could see the main road in the distance to the right, so all seemed good. As I rode down the path I had to weave in and out quite a lot of cow crap. There were cowpats everywhere. I felt like I was clearing mines in Afghanistan – one false move and there would be an awful mess. As I was nearing, what seemed the end of the path, I came across another load of cows – the picture does not do the situation justice – there were 100s of them. I headed down a low track in attempt to avoid them.
It didn't work, they began appearing from the trees. I was under attack. It wasn't just the cows, they had calves with them, cows can be quite protective. On top of this there were bulls about too. So I thought finding another route was probably the best idea. So I promptly headed back the way I came.
I was now in a bit of a predicament, cows ahead, cows behind. They had surrounded me, they could smell the fear and were closing in. But I wasn't about to give up. My survival instincts kicked in. A little way back on the track I had noticed a means of escape, and headed towards it. A river crossing. It mean risking life and limb, but that was better than being trampled to death.
Having successfully negotiated the river torrent and feeling safe from cows, I had a renewed need for adventure. So rather that heading right to the main road, I chose left. Big mistake. After riding for a mile or so I again coming across huge amounts of cow excrement, followed by the evil creatures themselves. Only this time they must have seen me coming, they had devised a plan. As if by magic one appeared in front of me….
It was only my laser quick reactions that saved my life. A quick u-turn that Eval Knieval would have been proud of, followed by lightning fast pedal action, meant I had once again prolonged my life. But time was running out, the mooing was increasing, it was only a matter of time. Seemingly the devil himself was the puppeteer and his puppets were moving in for the kill.
As things began to get desperate, my prays were answered. Like a pub that opens all day, like a cash machine that dispenses free money, like a lottery win, there it was, the stile of wondrous happenings…
I survived. But only just.