5th January 2016
My first day back at work after the Christmas holidays I was working away from the office, away from home. My home life is pretty darn perfect so working away for me is not much fun. I have more fun at home than I do away on my own. Meals are shared, not eaten alone. Food is homemade and not just off the standard supermarket meal deal shelf. When I go to work I commute on my bike so get to turn the cranks to wake up, sometimes varying the route to add on a few extra miles. When at work I have people who I’m familiar with to talk about work, play and generally putting the world to rights. Then after the day is over I ride home, sometimes the long way, arriving home to a loving wife and meal. Evening are spent together working on the race cars, riding mountain bikes or watching some extreme sports or films on the telly.
This time ‘round I was sure I wasn’t going to get stuck into a trap of working longer hours due to having nothing to do and eating my food at my desk or hotel room. I picked the pool car with the biggest boot, Vauxhall Astra estate if you’re wondering. Packed my bike, rucksack and lights into the boot and armed with my Garmin I set off at 5am Monday morning, travelling down to Gloucester to spend the week working.
Arriving at site a normal day resumed, trying to eradicate the ever extending to do list that seems to be the daily bread of a project engineer, it’s a great job with some major disadvantages such as customers, suppliers, tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. I would normally end my day between 7 and 8pm and head back to the ‘digs’ with my meal deal to mong in front of the TV. Not tonight, tonight I was going out on a treasure hunt. I finished work at 5pm, I popped into the supermarket and picked up my sandwich and then booked in at the hotel.
Now was the time to find the chest of gold pieces of pure single track joy. Riding from the hotel carpark I had a few funny looks from the locals. I had identified and uploaded a potential route to the Garmin so was following this as best as I could. I struggled for the first couple of minutes trying to find the way down to the ‘deadline’ to start my ride but once I’d worked out that going down the banking was a better idea than following the Garmin off the top of the bridge I was on my way. I had planned a 19 mile route into the unknown but with the heavy rain that the whole of the country has had over the past few weeks made the going under wheel very slippy. I plodded on slip sliding down the local trails with my solarstorm light blasting a hole down the trail. The night was a warm and wet one, the fields were water logged so decided to cut a few corners on the ride. I found a fantastic downhill that I rode/pushed up. Amazingly with all the lovely flowing trails I found on my short ride I didn’t meet any other people, no dog walkers, runners or bikers. Where is everybody? After a couple of hours I arrived back at the hotel covered in mud and feeling generally better about myself and the world. I had a nice warm pot of tea and tucked up in bed for 10pm more relaxed and chilled that normal when working away.
Strangely the following day a few of the staff members asked how my ride was the night before. I showed them the route I had taken which they seemed quite impressed with. It then triggered them to suggest other areas to ride. All of a sudden we had a common ground of interest. We then started to talk about work, play and generally putting the world to rights. Interesting a ride can make working away from home feel more like working at home. Take your bike with you next time you’re working away whether it’s a road bike, mountain bike or folding bike, you won’t regret it!