Chasing Shadows

grinton moor - cogden moor
Last weekend I went for a ride outside of my local patch and despite riding a fair few metres of hills which by reason of being gone up had to be gone down as well my humble Cateye only managed to recall a maximum speed all day of little more than the pace at which I glide down my own valley on a gentle summer evening spin because the roads were too wet and knackered to go down at a much quicker rate than they’d been gone up at and despite heading out in, and keeping on all day, winter kit of long sleeves, long legs, long fingers, and waterproof everything I was still cold and wet right through to my very bones by the end. I love riding through the winter for the most part. I love the empty roads, the snow on the heather, the dark skies, the clarity of the light, the low sun, the long shadows causing my own head and shoulders to ride abreast of me along the stone walls on the far side of the road, riding out of and above a valley mist, the feeling returning to my fingers from grasping a warm coffee with both cold hands and returning to my toes in a warm shower. Spring brings with it tourists unable to negotiate anything with a bend sharper than the curve of the London ringroad motorway in their ugly oversized cars with oversized roofrack suitcase box things screwed to the top, agressive moorland birds nervous for their chicks, skittish ewes convinced, not entirely unreasonably as they’ll find out a bit later in the year, that someone wants to take their lambs, flat dull light on a landscape that can look as ill at ease exposed to the sunshine as some its inhabitants, this inhabitant here included, the weight of an extra water bottle on the bike, other riders in garish and luminous kit who look at me kind of strange because I’m not, by reason of not being on a building site, riding my bike in building site regulation protective gear, and bugs, lots of bugs, and then some more bugs after that. But heck, despite how at this time of year everything, human and animal, needs to calm down a bit and despite the appeal of, or maybe just habituation to, the dark months it is quite nice, like today, to go out and be on home turf, and be warm, and go fast down a hill every now and again isn’t it?

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