It all started in 2011 - we decided to ride Lands End to John O Groats, since then we've completed a number of 'challenges' raising over £15,000 for various charities.
You can read about our adventures here, and also our on-going efforts to keep on cycling!
Gary called me to say he wouldn't make it today - he was held up at work. So I was out and about on my ownsome lonesome. I'd already decided a longish ride would be the order of the day and I set off under a fluffy grey duvet of sky. My route was to be exactly the one we rode last week - for no other reason than I enjoyed it and it had been a while since we rode those lanes.
The warmer weather has brought a spring flourish to the verges and hedgerows - daffodils are out everywhere - and dandelions. Bold as brass they burst from the muddy paths. Out from a dark winter place, rudely sunny. When looked at closely the dandelion is an astronomical image of the sun in all its boiling, flaring power. One day of warm sunshine and its flower is an entire landscape, a day star around which other planets orbit.
In the trees a song thrush oils his tunes – not quite ready yet, but his creaky phrases mean something wonderful to all who hear them. Even the bullying jackdaws leave the thrush alone, out on a limb, lost in exultant reverie. A couple of robins and a coven of long-tailed tits pass through the trees, and their calls and early songlines are clear - but nowhere near the pitch and intensity of the thrush.
As I ride through the lanes past a copse of tall alders I hear a sound which leads me to think that there's someone in there with a strimmer. Then my peripheral vision catches a flash of something through the tops of the trees - it's an aeroplane - a spitfire to be precise. Someone is flying a model and I stop for a moment to watch. I can't see the 'pilot' but whoever it is and wherever they are they are skilled and I watch for a while as the plane is pushed through a variety of aerial acrobatics. I'm joined by two other cyclists and we all enjoy the display. I remember having a petrol engined stunt plane when I was a lad. I built it from a kit out of balsa wood - endless struts and doped tissue paper - it all comes back to me as we stand watching - then I remember how disappointed I was after months building the thing I crashed it on it's maiden flight.
I circle round to the spot where the ghostly tree was last week. Now the sun is setting and the scene is much warmer and more friendly - but still with drama - photo posted herewith. Then it's the homeward stretch - 35 miles covered and I'm ready for a shower and, seeing as it's friday, a bottle (or two) of wine!