Rain rattled the windows. An elderly man on a mobility scooter urged his machine a little faster across the wet grey car park. I sighed.
I had driven all the way to west Wales for a microadventure with some of the guys from howies. They had never slept a night in a bivvy bag and looked a little reluctant to start now. I had slept many nights in a bivvy bag and was very reluctant to add to my tally in this weather.
But we persisted. And that is the key to doing almost anything interesting in life. You’ve just got to do it. Team howies turned off their computers and shut down the office. We began.
Ade, Alex, Ruben and I pedalled through the damp, grey town, through a heavy rain shower or two. And then we were out into the fresh air and brighter skies of the countryside. Wet hedgerows sparkled in the sunshine as we stretched our legs and cheered at the feeling of racing down a quiet road towards the coast.
The roads became smaller and narrower and quieter. We turned up a bridleway laden with blackberries. Up and over a hill then racing like mad little things through exciting singletrack and down to the coast. We were just in time. The sky was heavy grey. The sea had a strange deep purple sheen. But between the sea and the sky blazed a brilliant golden sunset. We were so happy to be out here.
Seals bobbed quietly below us. Alex observed that we had been riding for only as long as his normal car-bound boring drive home. He had swapped his daily commute for a bike ride, a fabulous sunset and the open sea. And -for one night only- this was home. We unrolled bivvy bags in a grassy clifftop hollow. Hidden from the wind, open to the sea and the stars. We ate and drank and chatted and then we lay down to sleep.
I lay awake for a good while, enchanted by the clouds rolling above us. A lighthouse beat its regular rhythm through the night. Each time I woke in the night I noticed the stars moving above us. The Big Dipper was so bright and distinct it looked as though it had been painted bright onto the sky above.
To my relief it did not rain and we woke refreshed and happy. Espresso, a clifftop view, and a stonking singletrack downhill makes for a happy start to a day.
Follow that with a swim in the sea and a bacon sandwich and you really do have all the necessary ingredients for a short, sharp microadventure.
All this, all this in just those hours we waste so often, the hours between finishing a hard day’s work and beginning the next one.
You won’t regret it.
(Unless it rains!)