It is not the image of an 18 wheeler truck veering across the white line that scares me the most while cycling. Nor is it an unknown Texan cyclist sneezing his CV19 R number of 7, at the front of my little peloton. No. My most feared view while saddled happened this week and there is nothing I can do about it.
They grow in the unkempt hedges around Galibier towers and the known world. They begin to blacken in the late Summer and herald the entrance of Autumn/Fall and my tears. Summer is stolen time for us Velocipede enthusiasts. The Summer dawn breaks at 4.30am and if keen enough the local star can guide you until 10.20pm at my latitude – giving more hours than I have fitness to explore the world.
Only half a dozen times a year do the stars of work, life, wind and family requirements align for me to disappear into the dawn and follow the sun, all day, until I fall into the gaze and door of a B+B. (The owner’s fixed look of horror at the red faced, salt encrusted monster who is trying to wheel a bicycle into his house, is always worth it).
These days are my favourite days. Lost in lanes with the only agenda to find a petrol station for water every few hours and a bag of chips before 6. Covid means these days start from home and end where people speak the same tongue, no bike boxes or sitting on a car ferry cafe wearing your helmet like an Republican leader’s hair. These days are life’s golden times. In the midst of a frozen morning in Dark December, I click into the pedals and dream of the golden times, I dream of orange and green instead of grey and gray. I like winter’s hardship cycling, but it is a course in overcoming cold and wind and rain. Summer is empty back pockets and shaved legs and outside coffee and worrying will 18% charge on your phone last until you get home.
Blackberries mean summer is ending. Today the blackberries are green and some red. Dawn this morning was 6.18 but if you click in at 6am it is light enough not to die. Dusk is 8.41pm, but you can still get a 2 hour loop in after tea as the kids have no homework. The red unripened blackberries have me short of breath. My opportunities are closing. The wind shifts slightly to the north in September and as I don leg warmers, I must realise all day riding will close for another season. I’ve only got a handful this year with the madness, can I squeeze a few more in?
Yes they may herald the end of summer but I have the last laugh.
JAM. Next week after a spin I will take the galibier juniors and arm each with a plastic bag and tell them to murder the wee bastard black berries. Kill as many as you can and we will boil their little black hearts and feed the breakfast dreams of orange and green until next summer.