Monday, 2 September 2013

Back on local roads....

There's an air of melancholy as summer gently slips away; although it remains dry here at present there has been a few misty mornings and the sense that the turn is close. It seems an age since we were baking under the French sun, desperate for a shady spot and toiling up endless hills. Since our return my bike has been in hospital - I'm glad to report it is now working as it should - wish I'd bitten the bullet and taken it in earlier. Also I've spent a week at the seaside enjoying the unspoilt beaches of North Devon. I took my old bike to keep my hand in and each morning I set myself the challenge of climbing the road from Woolacombe up to Mortehoe. What a test that was - first time I failed - the gradients in places are in excess of 20% - it made me realise that I've never faced hills like that before - and there is a definite technique to getting up them succesfully. After the first day I had the route in my mind and was able to measure my efforts more efficiently - I took things easier on the lower slopes and had enough energy to tackle the really steep sections as they arrived. There was a hill there from the beach straight up the hill heading inland - Challcombe Hill I think it is called - I had intended an attempt at this monster and I sat at a beachside bar with a pair of binoculars patiently watching for others making the ascent - like a cycle version of a twitcher. There wasn't many who managed the task - plenty were walking or giving up entirely. I never managed my attempt - circumstances, time constraints, fear? - maybe next time?

The last weekend of August was a fine affair - windy but dry with the sun peeping from behind scudding cloud. I went out late afternoon, for a change, making good progress over familiar roads and heading on a circular route through Market Bosworth, Cadeby, Daddlington, Stoke Golding, Upton, Shenton, Far Coton, Congerstone, Shackerstone, Newton Burgoland, Odstone, Barton in the Beans and back home. I took it steady with just a few speedy bursts when I needed to make a suitable impression overtaking mountain bikers. I stopped at the pub at Stoke Golding to take a drink - I'd forgotten to take a bottle and a pint of beer seemed a good idea. I sat in the small garden watching butterflies quivering and shivering as if struggling for flight - the glowing embers of the early evening light and the cooling down of the day seemed to have hampered their aptitude for flight. They tottered around like a woman on too-high heels making plaited flights over and under each other.

As the cooler air enveloped the scene I made my way back, the low-slung sun shone through trees creating dappled diamonds and oblongs on trunks and the ground, I passed through a tunnel of coppiced trees like a darkened bower confusing rhythms and blurring day into night, there was a rustle and some lively movement in the undergrowth to my left, an unidentified animal bounding through dry, dead sticks. The fields are full around here, a deep green sea of crops moving like waves with the wind. Soon I'm home and I give my bike a wipe down which turns into a more thorough clean. It won't be long before it will be confined to the garage for winter.

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