Thursday, 7 March 2013

Feels like spring...

There's the feeling of spring in the air and although pleasant there is still something ominous about it, quiet and calm, too soft perhaps. There is a metaphoric lion sleeping, here we need to treat weather patterns as though a fitful beast - inconsequent, unreliable, treacherous and ever changing. Stormy and sweet, hot and bitter - there really is no way of knowing what is coming next, the days are fickle, the seasons swirl and drift. And so, waking to a blue sky with the sun fresh and bright, a beautiful spring morning offers a rare opportunity to embark on a longish ride.

I rush to dress, eager to get out and lose myself along the lanes. Although the view from my bedroom is  encouraging the reality is that it is, in fact, still cold. I set off and immediately realise I need thicker gloves. No matter though - I decide that I'll acclimatise and the effort of a couple of sharp hills will warm me soon enough. There is a sense of tranquillity and soundlessness as I meander through familiar villages and empty lanes. I notice the paradox of silence and movement, of stillness and life as I work my way through Shakerstone and Snarestone before making a rare detour towards Twycross. The silence is broken by the uneasy cries of a flock of rooks and I notice a slight swirly breeze drifting over the barren open farmland.

After the long slow rise to Twycross I turn left back towards Congerstone and from there the sharp, steep rise up to Market Bosworth - this is a hill I detest, it would be fair to say i detest all hills, but this one is always tough - there is a brief respite prior to the summit, roadworks! - temporary traffic lights give me the chance to catch my breath before the final push to the town centre. I pass through the town, already bustling with people shopping, carrying bags and browsing round the market stalls. I head out towards Cadeby and from there through Sutton Cheney towards Dadlington and then Stoke Golding. I am enjoying the wildness, the bleak landscape and trying to remember how it looked just a few months ago with the trees in full leaf and the fields overflowing with crops. There is a particular spot I always enjoy during summer, a junction where, as I turn to drop down between two rows of farm buildings, there is a distant view of patterned fields and rolling hills - it looks totally different at this time of year but I realise that it won't be long before the scene in my mind becomes once again a reality.

I pass the pub I like in Stoke Golding and head out of the village towards Upton, There is a Hare at the roadside, stationery but totally alert. The first I've seen this year. As I approach he rises and steps tentatively into the road - and then suddenly he bursts into a ferocious run along the road ahead - I hope that there are no cars around, and then he twists off through the hedge. I look for him as I reach the spot but he's long gone.

I'm warm now, the past few miles have been under the welcoming warmth of the sun and I feel content and happy and glad to be out. My legs are complaining slightly and I am unable to sustain any long bursts of speed - but it doesn't matter, I'm content to linger and enjoy the morning, the freshness and the light. I pass through Upton, overtaking a rider even slower than me - this manoeuvre necessitates a burst of sustained speed to ensure a good distance is gained over my victim - sad, but that's how it is out on the road!

I turn left through Shenton and from there wind my way through Far Coton and then towards the water park at Bosworth - then a puncture! - damn! I pull in to attend to it, removing the wheel, tyre and tube - suddenly there is an endless stream of cyclists passing by from both directions - all shapes, sizes and ages - each one offers consolation and help - I acknowledge them and speed up my repair process - i want to get back on the road as quick as possible.

The last five or six miles are slow - the puncture repair has left me cool and my legs feel tired. I claw my way up the last couple of hills towards home, by now i'm thinking of a reward - the prospect of a hot mug of tea and a bacon sandwich provide the appropriate spur and I up my cadence as the church spire in my village moves ever closer.

34 miles covered - longest ride this year!

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