I’m on Winnats Pass in Derbyshire. I’m lying on the wet grass verge looking at my bike lying half on the road, half on the grass with me. I gaze down the hill, then up the hill, and then forlornly back at the bike. A moment ago I was riding up the hill. The gradient and wind gradually conspired to push me over.
There are days when riding a bike is sublime. Totally brilliant. Absorbed in your surroundings you become oblivious to the effort required to keep moving. The rhythm of pedalling is a simple pattern rather than exercise. You’ll happily ride all day, looking for unnecessary diversions, extra lanes and extra miles. Other days every pedal stroke seems a grind, lethargy seeping through every part of you. The physical and mental effort to push yourself forwards is an annoyance. On a good day the whirr of chain on cogs and the hum of tyres is faint background noise, somewhat comforting. On a bad day every click and creak is something about to break. Your chain is probably going to snap or rip your rear derailleur off.
You don’t allow your thoughts to escape, to drift and flow. A single thought – I’m bloody hating this – twists around itself. The more you try to think yourself out of the situation the more you sink into it. Rather than riding into a joyful mood every turn of the wheels darkens your mood. An austere landscape is a thing of beauty when your mood is light, discrete details revealing themselves to you. In a foul mood it’s simply desolate. Bleakness abounds.
When things are going well you ride through a landscape rather than riding across it. You feel within a place, part of the landscape as opposed to simply passing over its surface, separated from it. The road surface is smoother, the hills smaller and less steep. You are totally in the present, the immediacy of the moment and location are all that matter. You lose yourself in all the things hitting your senses. Nature around you reveals itself through sight, sounds and smells. Other times you really, really don’t want to be here and certainly not now. You desire to be elsewhere in another time. Preferably with a cup of tea or a pint.
I climb back on and point the front wheel up the hill.
Strava link http://www.strava.com/activities/91410843
Miles ridden: 64
Feet climbed: 5700
Average speed: 12 mph
Counties covered: Derbyshire, Staffordshire
Number of times I wished I was somewhere else: Far, far too many.
Camera used: Canon 500D