Monday, 5 March 2012

Friday ride....

I should mention our trip last weekend to Suffolk, the blonde and me. Compared to Leicestershire, Suffolk is like another country. We lazily drifted around delicatessens and antique shops set in dreamy pastoral villages - another world. And then there's the seaside - we were staying at Southwold. One walk around the town and I realised I want to live in Southwold. I fell into vast daydreams about selling up and moving into a small two-up, two-down cottage next to a pub and working on the pitch and putt golf course next to the pier. I like where I live - but a man can never look over open fields and feel completely content, there is always something in that scene that needs tending, crops to plant, animals to feed, grass to cut. But a beach is something else. A beach is complete, it has fulfilled it's purpose, it could rarely be improved, it is perfect and beautiful as it is. A beach means freedom, relaxation, idle bliss, daydreams and anything else that one's imagination can conjure... 

Today, for the first time this year, the sun was irresistibly warm on my face and it drew me outside. I couldn't help myself. I was overwhelmed by a certain sense of spring. Before I knew what I was doing I was changing into shorts. Yes, shorts - on the 2nd of March.

I like the March sunshine. In recent years it has been less rare; it offers the tiniest amount of warmth, but the colour is like a magic spell. It brings a sense of hope and realisation that proper warmth is on its way and with it the miracle of replenishment and new birth. As Gary and I set off riding along dry lanes with heads down, arses up and pedalling hard even the animals seemed busy. A woodpecker hammering, birds building nests, gangs of skinny rabbits skulking warily, like the teenagers in Measham. It all seems like a whirring industry under comforting blue-grey skies. We are riding at a fair lick - the bright gold sunlight seems to give encouragement. You never know which way it's going to roll with the weather in March. Can't tell. Today there's sun, and it's relatively calm, perfect riding conditions. The scenery is beguiling; enchanting even. The transporting smells; the weather all of a sudden overwhelming. The visceral thrill of the throb of nature more than enough for now: Where else would I want to be? Early March might be the greenest time of the year. The grass is almost lurid, practically psychedelic. You can tell everything in the ground is on the point of exploding but the conifers, the evergreens, are the richest, deepest, most soothing colour at the moment; colour acting like a mantra.

As the daylight fades the sun takes on the form of a dim copper disc shimmering above the horizon. At one point I look at it through two gnarled, twisted oak trees - the scene is eerily ghost like - the perfect opening shot to a Hammer horror movie. After we've passed I wished I'd taken a photograph - may not see that scene again.

Soon we're at our split-up point. I head up the long drag from Congerstone to Barton in the Beans and Gary heads to Shackerstone. Lights are on now, it's not yet completely dark, not black, just that deadening period as the surroundings soften and detail disappears. Soon I'm home and my legs can feel the effort. It was a 38 mile ride at a reasonable tempo. I'm tired but fulfilled and yet I realise my training isn't yet at the level it was at this point last year. I need to step it up a few notches over the coming weeks.

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