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I should have stayed in bed

It’s dark when the alarm goes off. I think to myself “I can’t be bothered today” and doze off again thinking about getting the train to work a bit later. Something in my brain makes me get up five minutes later and fall out of bed into my cycling kit. I laid it out ready on the floor last night when my resolve was stronger. Out on the street I flick on my lights and pedal up the hill. I weave through quiet streets until I cross the dual carriageway, the boundary between the suburbs and the downs. I open the gate and spin the pedals, the rear wheel struggles for traction, squirming around and spinning on damp grass and chalk. My legs feel useless, I should have stayed in bed. I look to my left, daylight is coming, golden light drifts over the hills, tufts of mist stick out of coombes and hollows, silence surrounds. My spirit rises with the sun. I wish my legs felt the same. I scramble and trudge through mud and flint up to the ridge. I turn towards the rising sun. It’s warm, too warm for this time of year, I remove my gloves and unzip my jacket. Across the Beacon, too early for the ice cream van. Along the ridge, through more gates. So many gates. My legs seem to have remembered what to do, my speed picks up. This is glorious. Turn right through the trees. Follow the fence line to the vanishing point. Bounce down the steps to the side of the dual carriageway again. I start to climb up to the ridge on the other side, rear wheel slipping and sliding, no grip, legs start to complain again. A cloud sits atop the hill, I zip my jacket back up and climb higher into the cloud. I know there’s a radio mast just there but it’s obscured by the grey. Over the crest I speed down the gravel track, before altering direction yet again, another gate, say hello to the dog walker. Descending out of the cloud into the valley mist weaves in and out of the trees, sunlight filtered through water vapour and branches. I’ve never seen the valley look so beautiful. I’m riding fast now, by feel rather than sight. That magical moment when everything works together, flow. I lock up a wheel and slide into a gate. Ha! This is brilliant. I carry on riding a bit too fast, a little bit out of control, I’m going to be late for work. One last hill and then I really must turn for work. One last hill. Stupid job. I want to keep riding all day.

In a parallel world I’m watching these hills pass by a train window. Longingly gazing at them. Frustrated.

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