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Coast

A zig-zag route with a profile like saw teeth. Narrow lanes between high hedges, rough and twisting. Stick and stones, mud and leaves, over pitted tarmac. Gently turning into a corner the front wheel follows the tangential line until it finds some traction. Getting out of the saddle uphill is like roller training, back wheel spinning but no forwards motion. Back in the saddle to find some grip. Brightness out at sea. Clouds rush overhead, the sky turns blue and long strong shadows are cast. The gloves come off and arm warmers are rolled down. The wind is behind me, for now. Down to the water’s edge again, dropping through shadows back into the light. Sheep clinging to hillsides so as not to roll into the sea. Waves lapping on sand and rocks. Climbing in the shadow of tall hedges. Then down again, steep and fast, clutching onto brake levers. Past the harbour with turquoise water. Another steep climb followed by yet another steep descent. Another hairpin bend indicating yet more steepness around the corner. A brief respite along a ridge. To the south I can see clouds and the dark silhouette of Bodmin Moor looming, but that’s for tomorrow. Today it’s north and east, and back down to the sea again. Slope and gravity do their best to counter slowing and stopping. Slate cascades into the ocean. The sky has turned grey again, waves crash onto rocks. I can taste salt in the air. I turn to see the headland I need to get over. Back onto the small ring. Last climb. Wheel slips again, back in the saddle, thighs burning, lungs bursting. Past Merlin’s Cave and King Arthur’s Arms. Sit on a wall eating meat and potatoes wrapped in pastry. Protein, carbs and fat. It’s needed for the headwind home.

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