Off the beaten track
Night descends gradually in the summer. After a day of hectic activity: cycling, talking, navigating, shopping and all the other things that fill our waking time, it’s bliss to lay back in my sleeping bag and look out at the stars as they begin to appear in the night sky. One by one the birds fall silent. Little by little the background noise fades away, leaving me immersed in quiet, the one thing my noisy mind requires above everything else.
Memories of summer
Since I last posted on this blog the lanes around Hatherleigh where I do most of my cycling have changed beyond belief. Just last week they were relatively dry, sheltered by branches supporting leaves that were rapidly changing colour. They have recently bathed me in orange, red and yellow light, like a giant Kaleidoscope. Riding recumbent exacerbated the effect, making me feel as though I was sliding rather than rolling along beneath this natural masterpiece.
October sun. High on Dartmoor, UK
Autumn leaves are beginning to fall in Devon, a clear demarcation of the seasonal change taking place. The once green leaves, that we watched unfurl in the long-awaited spring, turn red and orange and shine like stars in the damp morning light before falling to the ground where they shrivel. Slowly they rot and decay eventually replacing the nutrients that once fed them. The new growth suddenly burst open last springtime, forcing us to crane our necks to see the utter beauty of another approaching summer uncurling in front of our eyes, translucent and fresh. Now they fall, marking the slow onset of winter, diminishing daylight and long periods of dark, damp weather. The cycle of life continues.
I’m just home from a cycle ride of somewhere between 1600-2000 kilometres. I know I should know the distance with more accuracy but the cycle computer I hid behind the seat of my trike refused to work properly most days even when I remembered to set it leaving me to wonder why I’d bothered. I don’t like cycle computers at the best of times but I do like to know the day to day and overall distance of my rides. My rough estimation is based on pre-ride planning during which I chose a rough outline for
my journey by linking places I wanted to visit using Apps and maps: rhyming cycle guides.
Out and about in Devon, UK.
I was stood on the very top of Exmoor. The rain that fell heavily seemed to be seeping into my mind and body. The wind tore at my Waterproof jacket and over trousers and summer seemed an eternity away. “How can it be this cold when it’s almost August,” I found myself thinking. I was soaked, wearing full battle dress and chilled to the bone. A short while later the sun broke through, the clouds dissipating as quickly as they had built. The warmth spread through me rapidly but something had already taken place in my mind.
I’ve just finished a short ride wearing a shirt and three quarter length leggings. A peregrine falcon battled with a flock of swallows that were determined to keep it out of their midst. A greater spotted woodpecker alighted on a branch just ahead of me as I trundled home in the peace of rural Devon. It felt a world away from a cold, wet and windy Scotland where I had spent most of the previous two weeks.
As far north as you can go in Ireland.
On Sunday this week Michele and I will set off for the Scottish highlands, a trip I’ve made every year since 2006 with the only break being last year when time and the need to rest were greater than the desire to ride in the mountains. Even then I made it to Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities, drawn by the imminent graduation of my lovely daughter Lydia.