Cycling Hero! (15th April 2008)

On the approach to Fleet Pond a woman with a mobile phone stood with two others in a clearing. She asked me if I’d seen three kids. “No, sorry”, I replied, “Plenty of dogs but no kids.”

The tracks were quite muddy so I went slowly. After a while a keen mountain cyclist caught me up so I moved over. He overtook, politely panting “cheers” as he pedalled away. He swung right and honked up the bank. I followed in case he was following an interesting route.

Upon reaching the crest I looked around but couldn’t see him. So I trundled along the bank, slowly, taking in the view.

Out of the corner of my eye, to the right, I saw some movement. I turned and initially couldn’t figure out what had tripped my spider-sense. When I stopped and focussed I noticed a huddle of small shapes inside a stack of branches which were lent against a tree. “Hello!” I called out, adding “I think your parents are looking for you.”

The shapes shyly edged out of the branches and formed three children: Two boys and one girl. They said nothing so I kept talking to them, as if calming a startled horse. “Are you lost? A woman told me she was looking for three kids; is that you three?” They asked me to describe the woman, who else was with her and so on.

Clearly well trained against following strangers, which is good to see.

“Children have a quick instinct,” I remember a public service announcement from decades past saying, “they know when they are amongst friends.” After explaining where I’d seen the woman and describing her pink mobile phone, they trusted me. I suggested leading them back to the woman since the area is criss-crossed with random tracks. Commenting on what a lovely day it was seemed to clinch things. I guess that’s a British thing.

We went back down the bank. My brakes were squeaking embarrassingly. You look like a complete noob when you let them get so far out of alignment. Just like people who don’t oiled the chain or shift gears effectively. But I digress.

“You’ve been on an adventure?” I enquired. This got them all talking about how they’ve been finding treehouses (the stacks of branches) and that they should return to the carpark if they got lost but evidently their parents had forgotten.

A small group of people were heading towards us. I asked them if the woman was still looking for her kids and they confirmed she was. As we rounded a corner the kids started shouting “There they are! There they are!”

The girl ran ahead but the boys kept walking alongside me. Maybe they thought they were in trouble? To lighten things up, I did the obvious: “Race you to her. Come on! Race you!”

The women seemed very relieved to have their kids back, as you can imagine! “That’s so good of you, we really appreciate it.” What’s the ettiquette for responding to that? “Thanks, you’re welcome.” is all I could muster but seemed adequate.

The small group of people were walking around Fleet Pond on the same path I was riding. I announced “they are all reunited” as I rode past. “Aww, that’s your good turn for the day!”

Back at home now and find myself humming. Doing the right thing is its own reward.