Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Guess What...

Summer's arrived.

At last the arm warmers can be consigned to the back of the wardrobe, knee warmers hurled into the washing machine, never to be seen as matching pair again. Those bright, short sleeved tops which have sat patiently on the shelf while week after week of torrid weather has left them unused and yet yearned for. It's taken til June has nearly bowed out but here it is for however brief a time it may be.

There is nothing quite like hammering along on the good bike, the sun on your back, sweat streaming down your neck, midges and other small insects providing extra protein. Sticky tyres on sticky roads and all around, nothing but blue sky. The fields are finally in full flourish. Gone are the days when wisps of grass poked out from the ground like bristles on Van Gogh's beard. The chocoalte fudge cake furrows are now covered with waist high crops and the sudden flush of oil seed rape smeared like butter across the horizon will always engender an intake of breath, as if it is always seen for the first time, always a moment of wonder.

Summer rides are like gifts, as if all year has been about preparing for these few moments when everything makes sense, when all the grinding into the teeth of a gale allows for the ease of movement; the swift click into the year's unvisited gears comes out of those frozen months of toil. It's on these days when you wish to be like the Coppis of this world who never troubled themselves with helmets, who just planted a cotton casquette upon their head, a pair of raybans upon their face and headed off to duel with the Bartalis of this world. But ride with helmets we must, or face the wrath of motorists who already feel we are both suicidal and threatening for being on their roads.

The muscles run smooth on days like these, unencumbered they feel supple and full of potential, that somehow power has been stored there, overwintered and ready to be unleashed. So much of even our cycling is pyschological: feeling better, we ride better. Feeling in form leads to an increase in performance. We bury ourselves only to rise again like bad movie zombies only to bury ourselves harder, faster, deeper. And then rinsed and worn, dead bugs stuck to our sweat slick faces we return home, grinning like buffoons, we declare that life has never been better. Summer's arrived, the world is on our side.

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