It is now almost 2 years since we forced open the door here against the wedge of junk mail. Back home from 4 years on the road, we were both at the ragged end of enthusiasm and energy. In the first year back we renewed our love affair with our home roads. Like dogs, high on freedom and off the leash we biked in a frenzy of marking. But we did not get anything like enough done.
This year and with the focus on the summer months, we said we would do more. There is a lot to do, Scotland has a vast network of back-roads that we like to think as our domain. Most weekends begin with a ride from home, or loading the bikes into the back of our van. There is usually a route dialled into the Garmin and it is often complex.
Yesterday we needed the lights in the house by 7 in the evening. The North Sea Haar, a wonderful local word for the cloud and fog that rolls off the sea like Mercury. As we rode yesterday we had the first of the soft light days of Autumn and the sound of power cables sizzling. The Swallows may be still with us, but only just.
We have crammed in as much riding as possible. There have been new routes so complex that I have needed the gps and favoured old routes repeated for the first time in half a dozen years or more.
It is said that when an experienced glider pilot looks at a landscape, they see the clouds first. In the minds eye they read the lift offered by each cloud. A flight visualized and a line planned. Cyclists can do the same I think. On a ride in the Cheviot hills a few weeks ago we were on an unfamiliar road. The view back towards home opened up to a vista we had never had before and had not expected. Our cycling kingdom all hundreds of square miles was before us. We know each rise and fall. New routes day dreamed, visualized. We stood and looked for ten minutes or more.
When you know an area well, and I would say that you can only know it by walking or cycling and having the connection to that space through passing slowly and through effort there is a feeling of stewardship. A deep knowledge a slow won knowledge. You would think that farming the land would give you an ultimate connection, but you could be wrong. A couple of weeks ago we pedaled by a farm that I once owned. You would not believe the burden of ownership. Everything looks different when you are responsible for it. There is never the carefree gaze of the walker or cyclist.
Do I dream of cycling? Possibly. But then there are things that I am not sure I have ever dreamed, like sneezing. Can you have a dream where you sneeze, can you ride a bike in your dreams?
We are away on a short tour up the east coast and I need to pack. We must ride before the Dreich days of the months ahead and the earth tilts to rob us of light once more. ( Dreich – a word that recently topped a poll of favorite Scots words – A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich. )