Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Bitter winds and driving rain

Tough day. I’d been woken the previous night by rain lashing the window. No abatement the next morning. Icy. Torrential. Struggling to read the road signs through my glasses. Missing a crucial turn. Gradual deterioration of the road surface the only clue I’d veered off the National Road I’d meant to follow. Soon gingerly picking a path through the potholes. My mistake slowly becoming apparent.

Eventually retracing my steps. Imagining myself to be back in the lanes around my small Somerset village. Sharing a similar red loam. Dusty in the summer. Rivulets of red mud in winter. Clinging to everything. Caking my car at home. Now coating the panniers, my boots, every exposed surface.

Back on track. But time had been lost. Progress slowed by the torrential rain. Cautious not to inadvertently strike a pothole. Puncture a tyre. Or worse. Buckle a wheel. The day’s mileage now looking overly optimistic. Finishing in the dark to be avoided at all cost. Far too dangerous. Frustrating. For Hong Kong – Chiang Kang – beckoned. As did Christmas. And the end of my second continent.

Problems were compounded by my mis-judgement of the conditions before I’d set off. Choosing not to don waterproof trousers. Or dig out my winter gloves. Imagining I’d be amply warm once underway. Finding instead water running down my leggings into my boots. Feet soon numb. As were my hands. Realising my mistake too late. Only morale was ebbing. Not the rain.

Inevitably I stopped short. Just forty miles covered. But to continue on, three or so hours of daylight remaining, would have been foolhardy. My intended stop out of reach. Best to dry out and start fresh in the morning. And so I spent the afternoon drying out my kit. Helped by a heater that would work for half an hour. Then inexplicably stop. Washed the red loam, the fine, penetrating grit, off the panniers. And Emma.

Wandering outside later into the bitterly cold night to take a GPS fix to work out exactly where I was. In my sandals. My boots still damp. Hail crunching underfoot. Hoping for an improvement in the weather next day. Or at least dry cold. But not optimistic.

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