The day after my procedure and I’m awake early.
It’s Sunday morning, about 7am and any trace of sleep is gone – so I decide I might as well get up, get something to eat and go out.
The cats follow me downstairs and following me around asking for food. As usual Furry dives straight in, whilst Tiny sits politely waiting for anything that’s left when he’s finished. They both like to spend time during the night clambering onto my head or snuggling down by my feet – meaning that both have been kicked by accident on more than one occasion.
I fish out my cycling gear and pull my bike out of the kitchen and into the entry by the side of the house, checking the tyres and the brakes: it has been two months since I’ve ridden it. Before I start seriously riding it I will get it serviced properly, but the bike is in good enough condition for today.
Most days I just follow my nose unless I have somewhere specific to go: heading towards country roads, taking a left that I have never taken before just to find out where it goes. On this occasion I’m heading out with a Purpose (note capital letter).
From November 2009 our offices move to a new location. I had hoped (somewhere in the tiny corner of my brain that still believes in miracles) that we would move to a more central location, but it is now looking increasingly likely that we will be even further away from my home: and so I need to find a new cycle route. I decide to follow a route I’ve had mapped out in my head for a few weeks: one that goes as close to the crow’s flight as possible by cutting off corners, taking routes that run alongside country parks and over footbridges before arriving at my destination. In order to fully check the validity of this route I decide I will come home via a second route through a more built up area.
I clamber onto my bike and set off – surprised at how easy I find it: I’ve been on the bus to work since September (earlier than usual because of a leg injury) so am out of shape, but the bike carries me through the worst of it and its barely a few seconds before I’m at the end of the road and cycling down into the subway. The road nearby is quite a major one and there’s no cycle path on either route, so I stick to the pavement and watch for pedestrians as I climb the slow hill towards the local war memorial. There’s a road to one side of it that I follow, crossing another major road and wondering how realistic this journey will be at rush hour.
All around me the landscape is changing from the way I have known it: an old pub has been flattened by developers, new businesses stand where familiar names once were.
Down the hill and across the footbridge I see the local recycling plant and take what I believe to be the right route – only to find myself on a wooded path. I crouch down as I whizz through low tunnel after low tunnel, each barely enough to give me space to pass. The world is in darkness as I can’t stop to take off my sunglasses and I know I can’t follow this part of the route everyday. Nevertheless it brings me out somewhere I didn’t expect – somewhere very close to the new offices and I’m surprised that the journey is actually shorter than my current one.
I cycle back a different route, enjoying the thrill of the exercise and the complications of following the wrong route for a mile or so. It’s hard to describe the feeling that cycling on a quiet morning like this gives me: it’s like the moment when I’m sitting in front of a computer and my fingers are typing as fast as they can to keep up with my imagination, or the moment that I get so involved in a painting that everything else just swims away.
In that moment the world slips away and I’m free of the doubts and the insecurities. In that moment I can be the person that I want to be.
Many people I know talk about hills when they talk about cycling – how much of a pain they are to conquer – I actually quite like them. I like that feeling of accomplishment you get when you get to the top of a hill and are rewarded with the view – you can take your time and find your own path: something that we are sadly allowed to do so infrequently in our lives.
Now, with spring rapidly approaching, my cycling begins again in earnest. I’m hoping to build up my distances again to the point where I can easily do 40-50 miles in a journey. Maybe when I do I will take you with me.
On a separate subject, but in the vein of taking you with me – I have several ideas for novels at present: two of which I want to keep off line, but I have been thinking of sharing the third one on a separate blog linked in to this one.
However, before I start I would appreciate some (honest) levels of interest. The idea is based around a fading rock band who are trying to ride the wave of their one-hit-wonder for a comeback tour, but are forced to face their insecurities along the way. Each post would be between 3-5,000 words - which you may feel is a bit much to cope with
I guess I would post about once or twice a month.
If there’s sufficient interest I will go ahead – but please be honest with feedback on this.