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The long way round

the long way roundShutting the front door whilst the nearly full moon still hangs over the city to the east I head west. The sun is yet to break cover. Where the sky meets the sea is pink and orange, a hint of what is imminent. I’ve got just under three hours before I need to be at my desk.

Spinning along the cycle path over the cliffs to warm up my legs the sky lightens. I drop to the undercliff path to avoid an ascent over a cliff but I’m soon back up top when the path runs out. Over a headland, around the one-way system, over the swing bridge. Passing the tide mills the sun’s rays blind me and warm me in equal measure. The sea is close to my right hand side and another headland ahead but no way over. Not on this bike anyway. I turn inland, into the houses.

I rejoin the main coast road and as I roll over the brow of the hill the Cuckmere Meander is liquid gold flowing out to sea. Descending to the bridge I realise it’s still water, no early morning alchemy. Over the bridge I turn up the valley. The flood plain is in the shadow of the downs on my right, the hillsides opposite bounce sunbeams back into my eyes. The reeds are leaning towards me in the wind. My back wheel skids and skips a little on the rough surface when I get out of the saddle as the roads weaves and undulates.

At Chapel Hill rays of golden light glance off gentle curves, the depths of the coombes cast dark blue-purple. Over the top of the hill and it’s that view again. In the shadow of Windover Hill I let me eye wander around the downland and weald for a moment. The whole of Sussex is merely a green strip between shadow and morning light. Down at the Long Man a middle-aged gent appears from the hedgerow clutching 3 rabbits. We exchange cheery hellos, but whether a farmer or a poacher I have no idea.

Down on the flat the wind makes it feel uphill. The lanes don’t meander and curve here, they zig and zag around right angled corners. I’m on the drops and my head is down, trying to push through the wind. My legs are burning, but it’s not the cold now, it’s exertion. As Mount Cabon and the Glyndebourne wind turbine gradually get closer I know I’m nearing my destination.

I sit at my desk and turn my computer on, a dull ache echoes through my legs under the desk. I look at the blue sky and hills outside the window.

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