Coming down with a bang - what happens when you take your eyes off the ball (or road in this case)

My camera, tripod and I were perched precariously on top of a cold dry stone wall at dawn recently trying to capture the most spectacular of mists caressing the Calder Valley when it happened… Wonderful rays of light were streaking through the cloud like a delicate and dynamic comb across Mytholmroyd below, gently illuminating the features of the church with its characteristic tower. It was chilly. Hands in gloves. Good hat on. My eye was locked onto the camera screen, finger on the cable release…click, click, another shot, wow the light getting better by the second…

Then  SLISH….BANG….A slithering flesh gouging sound issued behind me as a cyclist’s body hit the road tarmac and slid 20yards down the steep decline past me on the bank above.

I helped him up. He checked himself and his bike. Couldn’t stop looking at the view he said. Slipped on the ice. Shaken but not hurt he said. Only another 20miles to go before work that morning. After straightening out his brake levers and pedals, he climbed back onto his steed and freewheeled down the hill. What mettle I thought.

And what suckers we are for a good view. I continued to gaze at the scene unfolding which he had only glimpsed before his wheels lost their grip. Click click. And then it was over…the sun had fully risen and the mist was melting away…and then was gone…just like the cyclist into the valley below. I will forever remember my vantage point there with the pain the cyclist must have felt in falling, coupled with the relief that he was lucky to be unharmed. It made me consider how to fully absorb and enjoy a scene, one probably has to suspend all but observation alone for this very act demands not just passivity, but conscious activity to perform.