The Best of Times

I was so horribly tired this morning, been lumping too much of my hard training together in one spot and not getting enough sleep. I didn’t expect much from today: Jonathan had a half day, so I put my bike, Daniel, in the back of the car, and took my runners. It wasn’t worth it to drive him to school, drive back to Dundalk, only to have to drive back to fetch him a short while later.

Once there, I got on the bike and set off in an arbitrary direction. Moments later, I was in rural Ireland, the odd way you can be in a town one moment and among farms the next hereabouts. So beautiful: not the majestic mountains I usually cycle around, but instead the round-headed hills inside which the faerie live.

Peace settled around us, and without me noticing I actually managed an average speed which is not great, but not as bad as I’d thought it would be. Just before turnaround point, something unpleasant: two dogs, one a Beagle by the looks of it, coming for me and bark-snapping at my feet. And lo, mere metres after shaking them off, I had to turn around and head back.

There was no other way to go. I watched them stop and sniff here and there as they sauntered back to their gate. Should I hare in fast, and risk one of them getting under the wheel, leaving both me and the dog battered and bruised? Or should I go in slow, so they could have a good chance to bite me?

I set off, half decided on fast, still picturing myself grating flesh on the rough tar road. And probably getting bitten when I’m down. Lo, they spotted me, and snarled, and ran toward me. That’s when I got angry and stopped.

“GO AWAY*, YOU BAD DOGS!” I roared. The dogs faltered. “I said GO AWAY! GO AWAY! BAD DOGS!”

And they did.

I pedalled on, pondering the dogs’ defeat, when… oh, for the gods’ sake, not another one. I watched the animal, again about Beagle-size, trot in the same direction as me but a stone’s throw away. But… it didn’t look like any dog I know. Fox? No. Then what…

“Sweet Jesus, it’s a cat!” I said aloud. And it was. The biggest darn cat I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, too. It got a fright when it saw me and bounded away, even though I’d slowed down to not startle it. Sorry, cat.

Made it back to the school, put Daniel back in the car, and set off for an hour’s run. Which the body liked doing. That felt good, even though I was knackered at the end of it.

It was a really, really good time, especially because I’d anticipated exhaustion and struggle. Back home, I let the rabbit out to wander the garden while I cleaned Daniel very thoroughly. This is probably the most peaceful day I’ve had in weeks.



*Believe it or not, I actually did shout ‘go away’. I’d used ‘fuck off’ earlier, when the dogs first went for me, as in: “FUCK OFF OR I’LL KICK YOUR TEETH IN!!!” It seemed in this instance, profanity was not the most effective tool.


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