The old man toils on his thumper through the snow.
Slipping and sliding, sliding and slipping... But he miraculously remains upright.. just...
The snowstorm was pounding his face.
Impossible to close the visor of his helmet, it would get steamy right away.
The snowflakes hitting his eyelashes felt like sledgehammers.
Occasionally a snowflake found its way to his eyeball. It felt like someone was stabbing his eye with his finger.
It was very hard to distinguish where the road ended and the verge of the road began.
He was the only one riding on that road. It was pitch-dark up there in the middle of the nature reserve called 'de Veluwe'.
The golden-yellowish cone of light which the headlamp produced, seemed to reach less and less far in the dark.
Homeward bound... Christmas eve...
The weather was extremely beautiful these last few days before Christmas.
OK, no white Christmas this year, according to the meteorologists, but temperatures should be marvellous and it was going to be dry !
And they expected it to be like that for days...
So on the 24-th of December ‘Mrs. Old-man’ decided to pay their children in the city a visit.
"OK", the old man said, "then I will go for a nice bike ride and a coffee at Paul's in Deventer.
On the way back I'll take the beautiful small roads through the Veluwe, and we'll spend Christmas eve together tonight.
It started to get dark real early, just as he left Deventer.
The first part of the ride he took the main road, but after Apeldoorn he took the small roads of the nature reserve.
He hardly reached the reserve when it became terribly dark and the first snowflakes started to fall.
At first he still came across one or two vehicles, only cars of course, but after that he was all alone on the road.
It began to snow a lot harder. "Boy oh boy," the old man thought, "If I would be as accurate in my job as those meteorologists I would be out of a job in no time. Such a bunch of amateurs!".
By now it was no longer a matter of riding carefully in a little bit of freshly fallen snow covering the road.
That would not upset him, he could handle that; done it before...
But snowfall like this...He had to shift down a few gears, and continued no faster than walking pace.
Meanwhile a thick layer of snow covered the road, and the transition between road and roadside was no more than a shallow gully.
Marked here and there by a small bush or a little tree.
The old man started to feel really uncomfortable; he couldn't see his hand in front of his face.
Though he had taken this road before, he now did not have the slightest idea where he actually was.
Maybe he had accidentally taken a side road even, under these conditions nothing looked familiar any more.
He felt that there was only one thing he could do, and that was to ride on...
Under the circumstances stopping here was no option, he would get snowed under in no time.
And turning back would not be any easier than proceeding.
Besides he really wanted to go home, because for his wife Christmas eve meant a lot more than Christmas day,
To make matters worse, his winter suit started to let in water too. Very subtle but distinctively, in the bottom of his trousers.
Noticing this he could not help having the sad feeling of abandonment and loneliness.
With clenched jaws and extreme concentration the old man toiled on...
The bike suddenly stopped. Just like that.
Fortunately he did not fall off hard, he drove way too slow for that, but he more or less slid down sideways from his seat.
He found himself now sitting on his bum beside the bike in the snow.
He somehow got off the road after all, in spite of his concentration, and the bike now stood in the ditch beside the road.
As it was completely filled with snow, the bike did not fall over, instead it stood upright on its wheels held upright by deep snow.
"Well, that's that then", the old man thought passionless.
He realised that there was no way in the world that he would get the bike back on the road by himself.
Even if he would have the strength - just forget it - he would have no grip at all on the snowy ground.
He had not seen a vehicle since the village of Brookmountain, and he could only hope that a snowplough or sander truck would pass by.
In order not to freeze he started to walk a bit up and down .
His mobile was completely useless,,all it said was a merciless: "no signal".
The old man felt as if he had been standing there for about a century when, to his amazement, a light approached from the same direction that he came from. His amazement grew when he noticed that it was just one headlamp he saw.
Could it be a car with one broken lamp... But... "well, what the...", he thought, "a biker? How on earth is that possible?".
The biker stopped, opened his visor and said with a grin: "lost the way, or rather the road?".
His bike was a beauty of a BMW R75/5, blue metallic... and shiny all over.
"Hey", the old man thought, "I once had one just like that, only mine was gold-brown metallic.
But... who was it again who had a blue one just like this“ he tried to recall.
He noticed something 'odd' about the biker. He could not pinpoint exactly what, but something was... well, 'odd'.
First of all he came riding at a normal speed, as if there was no snow at all.
Second, the bike and the rider had no snow on them at all, and third, the biker did not seem effected by the cold at all...
Still, the old man became more and more convinced that he knew the biker and his bike.
That face, the way he talked, how he grinned even... But he just could not remember...
He assumed that his observation could be 'clouded' due to tiredness and cold, for by now he also saw the whole world through a kind of haze.
The biker, meanwhile dismounted, seemed to walk on the snow. And he had parked the BMW on the snow too, just like that on its side stand.
Neither of them sank in the snow at all. Not a millimetre.
The BMW pilot unwound a black-red shawl from around his neck and casually said: "let me pull you back on track, old boy".
The old man, now completely in a state of 'zombiness' did not notice anything strange about the situation anymore.
He was just grateful to get help.
The shawl was attached to the front of the thumper in the ditch, and to the rear of the BMW on the road and the mistery rider started the R75 and began to pull up slowly.
The old man had 'automatically' mounted his single-cylinder and felt the movement; forward and upwards.
Slowly he was being towed up along the side of the ditch and onto the road.
How the BMW found grip on the snowy road he did not question anymore.
How his thumper so obediently allowed to be pulled effortless up the road did not matter to him... it just did !
When the old guy's bike stood well on the road again, the BMW rider fully opened the throttle.
The bike jumped forward and the black-red shawl snapped just at the knot on the thumper, leaving the knot and a small piece on the old man's bike. The BMW then accelerated fast and disappeared with a deep roar into the darkness. With the remains of the shawl flying behind it.
The old man seemed to 'awake' from his 'trance'.
He noticed that the BMW left no print in the snow, while in the distance its red taillight seemed to take off into the air.
Not exactly knowing what to think he scratched his head.
"Must be a biker angel for sure", was the last thing he thought as if there was nothing more normal in the world than angels.
The old man woke up with a jolt. He found himself in his own bed at home, it was already light outside.
"What a crazy dream", he thought, while he felt with his arm to his left in the bed.
Empty... ! Hey, where was Mrs. ?
Reality slowly dawned on him again. His wife had stayed in the city.
She had texted him: "no more trains running tonight due to the snowstorm.
Staying overnight at the kid's. Merry Christmas, your loving...”.
Ah... yes, the snowstorm last night.
But no matter how hard he tried, he simply could not remember how he got home last night.
Last thing he knew was that in the pitch-black Veluwe-reserve he landed beside the road, but how he got away?
Shaking his head he went outside.
The roads were being cleared with might and main, but otherwise the whole world was still completely white.
His thumper was neatly parked in front of the house.
"Well done, my brave horse", he said to the single-cylinder, inspecting it from back to front.
He suddenly froze with astonishment. He saw some piece of cloth attached to the front end.
Black-red cloth, could be from a shawl of sorts.
And then it all came back; the bike, the blue BMW R75/5.
The face and the ways of the biker.
He suddenly realised who had helped him in his need.