The Moor

The north side of the moor is the steep way up. This is the way the proper bike riders of the world tour, proper bike riders with hard hats and the right shoes and everything who ride in a different place every weekend, will cross the moor next summer. It might be harder going up from the north but going down to the south is much the more satisfying; gentler and straighter and wider. Going down the north side is made slow in winter by swatches of ice, the frozen run off across the road from the moor, slow to thaw as the sun only reaches the far side of the valley and in summer by motoring visitors from certain flatter-wider-straighter-roaded parts of the country, prodding their sat navs, pointing at sheep and realising with wonder that the large round wheel type thing stuck on their dashboard in front of them is not some vistigial appendix from the days before motorways but does still have a use in some undeveloped parts like this. In late spring bike riders are buzzed by ground nesting curlews and lapwings alarmed for their chicks and by retired schoolteachers in urban 4x4s speeding between the chamber music recitals and wildflower walks of the local arts festival. In the winter the snow lies higher than can be seen over from the saddle of a bike.

For a glorious moment at the very end of summer and the very beginning of autumn however, when the birds have raised their families, when the grey civil servants in their grey tonka toys have migrated back south to Surrey, when the grouse shooters have got bored, or the grouse smarter, and the army have fired all of their practice budget for the financial year, when the big westerly depressions haven’t got properly going yet and the bitter easterlies still await beyond the change in the clocks but the breeze has that lung loving freshness once again, when the fell is still a place of life but the bugs of the warmer months have called it a day, when the heather is at its finest and the burning season is yet to start, in that period between the schools being closed because it’s summer and being closed because it’s winter, when the road repair works weather window has closed but the winter pot holes haven’t opened up yet, for this moor, ridden at times this year jersey unzipped bare chested, ridden at times wearing every single item of bike gear I own plus anything else I could find that might help finish the ride with all the fingers and toes I started it with, for that magic moment, that sweet spot, that grand day, that is so not too hot and not too cold that Goldilocks herself, caught at a bad time in the month, with her roots showing and got out of the shower to answer the door, could only but pronounce it just about f****g perfect, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be but here, nothing else I would rather be doing but riding my bike.

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