30 Days of Biking #4 – The curious incident of the man in the empty swimming pool

Nothing I had to do today involved leaving the house other than going for a run. The only logical course of action: cycle to the park.

Cons: an added layer of Faff for either activity (what (not) to wear/carry, what to do with my hair); potentially being a bit spaced out after running and therefore more accident-prone.

Pros: more park time, not having to run through urine-soaked underpasses to get there, an extra incentive to make the Gigantic Faff Checklist happen.

Cycle-friendly and run-friendly clothes have reasonable amounts in common, at least when it’s not raining. But to minimise the number of things to change in between the outfits, I went for leggings – as a self-conscious pear shape, not something I normally like to wear in public (I only bought them for Zumba – both tracky bottoms and cargo pants limited my movements and needed frequent readjustment while I was trying to shake my thang).

I also had to leave my Little Rucksack of Everything behind, something I never like to do, though I am used to it when running. I’m not an advanced enough practitioner to carry stuff on my back while I run yet – Fiona Oakes I ain’t. But amongst many other things I carry in my Little Rucksack of Everything are cycling bits I don’t want to leave in my Permanent Pannier like lights and a multi-tool. I decided the short, daylight ride to the park was doable without those things.

When I got there I found my suspicions, based on my mental map of the place, confirmed:  there was no “proper” bike parking available. I had a ride around the perimeter of the main bit by the main roads, to no avail, and could see no precedents of anyone having tethered their bikes to railings or trees. As a reasonably new cyclist and a goody-two-shoes, I like to take my cues from clear rules or visible practice, so this made me uneasy. Funnily enough, when a friend recently shared a list of 10 things that put people off cycling, I had dismissed “lack of facilities” as one of those that did not really affect me.

In the end I tucked the bike behind a bench by the lake and tied the two together with my coily lock, resigned to limit my run to this area, which is my favourite.

One lovely thing that came out of the enforced bike ride was discovering a part of the Park I had never noticed before. I spotted it on my vain search for a Sheffield hoop and went back after my run. I didn’t get any really good pictures and have filed this under “go back with proper camera”, but I did meet Lee*, a man with two teardrops tattooed on his face and a gorgeous staffie that I feared at first was imaginary (he had managed to get out of the gated garden while his human was enjoying a can for his birthday – not clear whose, the human’s or the dog’s). I had hesitated to go in there, not out of fear but out of respect for introverted contemplation and because I understand the deep joy of having gorgeous places all too oneself. I’m glad I did go in, and I’ve also now found out via a quick google that contrary to popular belief, teardrop tattoos do not necessarily denote that the wearer is a murderer.

The Old Swimming Pool Garden sign

Original feature apparently – Lee has been coming here since he was a kid

I actually enjoyed the gentle cycle back, in glorious sunshine, after that strange encounter.

*name changed just in case of whatever


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