One way ticket, only one way home. A flat before I’ve even started. A lap of Cambridge looking for an open bike shop to borrow a track pump. Saving that gas canister for emergencies in the middle of nowhere. Really must buy a decent mini pump. Buy an extra gas canister.
Then riding into an unknown landscape in sunshine pushes all the doubts to the far recesses of my mind.
Cambridgeshire. Big skies filled with the spiralling song of the skylark. The golden smell of rape.
A quick check of the map.
The northern flood plain of the Thames, all desolate and eerie.
The northern hinterland of the Thames, all scrubby and scruffy.
Industry looms on the horizon.
Eating malt loaf next to the river waiting for a boat to carry me to Kent.
Talking to strangers. “Where are you going?” and “Where have you come from?”
The fear returns.
Climbing over the Lower Greensand Ridge on sun striped lanes.
The recognisable shape of the reservoir down to my left. A pork pie and bottle of coke bought in a village shop.
A lowering sun and the smell of earth. Slugwash, on home lanes now. Can count them on one hand.
The list of places is tucked in a pocket, don’t need that any more.
Wrapping a broken spoke around the spoke next to it. The sound of a loose nipple cascading around a wheel rim on a steep hill. The last hill.
Half a day.
All of the daylight and a little bit of the darkness.