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Chance meetings

 

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One of the very good things about going for a bike ride is that anything might happen. There will definitely be some sort of bike riding, but there are endless other possibilities.

Among the nicest things are chance meetings.

Recently I popped out into one the great meeting sites (the big, dusty intersection of five roads, a water pipe and its associated tap, a psychotic drinking fountain and the grand finale of Hot X Buns). A man and two kids were gazing at the trail map sign, so I dropped in on them to clarify any confusion they might be having.

The question was Corners, how do we get there, and will these little guys like it?

Being a weekday, and not a school holiday, the bus was not running. The only way to get there was to ride. Or walk. Up the poetically named Direct Rd. Accurately named as well, it takes as few deviations as possible in getting traffic up a steep ridge.

I touched briefly on the nastiness of Direct, and described the part of Corners within their reach well enough that the kids were sold.

Being a weekday, and not a school holiday, I then asked the kids what they were doing out in the woods when they could be getting educated (or bored stiff, depending).

They were proud to tell me they were in the middle of a year-long roadtrip with their proud dad. And Mum, in a caravan, armed with the Kennett’s bible and a similar book about surf spots.

They were literally having the time of their lives, and the old man didn’t look unhappy either.

What an awesome thing to do with your kids, if you can get away with it. Come to that, without kids would be good too, if you can get away with it.

I don’t know how they got on climbing Direct, nor whether they felt Corners was worth the effort, but I bet they will remember their day in the forest longer than they would have recalled whatever happened had they spent the day in a classroom.

This week I had another chance meeting. I plodded up to a junction just as a mate pedalled up to it from the other direction. We rode along together for a bit, comparing notes on the state of the trails and general business, then parted to follow our respective routes.

An hour later, as I dawdled up a gentle climbing trail in a recently clear felled area, I spotted a lone figure high in the distance, silhouetted against the skyline like an Indian in a Western movie. He was far enough away that I could only just make out his raised arm, before he dropped away from the ridge out of sight.

The almost full moon was directly behind him, and while I didn’t have time to fish out my phone for a snapshot, I did ease off pedalling for a moment to and squint at the scene.

It might have looked like the image at the top of this message. Or not, doesn’t really matter. That is how it looks in my memory, and it will stay there longer than the evening news would have if I had stayed home.