Against the last post, entirely made up of whinging. Standard operating model for AL v.Old but not without some justification. Mid May, Mud May, Minging May, Motivationless May – you get the drift. Well not so much dusty drift, more slithering about in search of an accident. Welcome to Spring 2023.

In my moments of maximum delusion, I pretend a man shouting at rainclouds correlates to strongly worded letter to the weather Gods. Who, after a beat down on blameless customer service operatives, magnanimously snatch a quick look at our watery planet and ratchet the season switcher.

Whatever, things have changed.

Summer comes fast when the rain stays away. Head high swaying vegetation hides leathery spikes whipping out at exposed flesh. Mud turns to dust turns to marbles, soddden troughs to sun hardened ruts. tractions stays about the same but post ride switches from decontaminating the swamp monster to a desalination event. And some itchy and scratchy behaviour.

Between then and now was a second trip to Molini. Where our long-seasoned mud skills were at a premium during thunderstorms of world-ending violence. Then it dried out and it was epic. Three weeks have passed and I’m still mired deep in post holiday blues. We’ll be back to that, and it’ll be a multimedia event*

Right now tho riding at home is pretty damn good. Tempered by the date – the Summer solstice always comes too soon. I can’t help feeling it’s all downhill from here** And not in a ‘oh there’s the van, take us to the top o the next great trail, beats the shit out of pedalling‘ kind of way.

Time to live in the moment. Still unclued on how to instantiate that. Maybe sofa bound flicking crap food detritus into empty beer cans or launching a culling “I never fucking liked you” event on random digital  connections, might be mooning off Nelson’s column**** or  striding nonchalantly into your workplace and punching the boss?

No idea. So instead I swapped a night in a bland hotel some 200 miles north for a skive ride with my good mate Haydn. We slacked off early for no other reason than riding always beats working. It wasn’t the longest of rides nor the fastest, at no point did Zen pop in to educate me on flow, neither of us felt the urge to break out a fist pump, progression was hidden – camouflaged by our hinterland.

But what a thing. Dump the inbox at 3pm, make slow but continuous progress on the first few climbs. Fresh logs dumped on the fireroad have us worrying for the loss of favourite trails. But weaving between massive logging trucks, we’re soon flashing blades scything through vegetation seemingly hell bent on reclaiming those trails for nature.

I’m okay with that. We have no entitlement of  permanence here. Visitors at best, vandals at worst. Might explain why puddles from weather cells forming flash storms are incorporated into heat management. We don’t stop much because the insects are hungry, and some of those winged bastards plug exposed skin for about a pint.

So we ride, we descend with normal excuses leaving plenty of time to rationalise those on the climbs, We see the sun optically trolling us with an apparent azimuth of high noon. We know we are lucky – mid 50s, skiving off from some 1950s 9-5 worth ethic, riding brilliant bikes on perfect trails. And while maybe we’re not brilliant, we’re good enough. The year I can’t do this is going to feel like a milestone marking a slow death.

Last weekend, we revisited my last barely noticed celebration of another planetary rotation survived. Tintern was as magic as ever, old school route with a lot of the old being sunken bridleways, ancient woodland barely changed in millennium, ruler straight tracks linking long forgotten trade routes.

And lots of full on ‘well fuck me that’s steep‘ and ‘oh I see that’s not actually the steep bit’. Riding it in the wet would be nothing more than a cry for help and/or some quality time spent in a local hospital. We got to ride it in conditions so perfect they should first be preserved is aspic, then donated to a local museum.

I was pretty much bouncing off the ceiling in the pub. The day that doesn’t happen, the solstice I don’t love/lament, the week weather forecasts are not forensically examined, the year we don’t plan summer riding while shivering on a winters’ hillside, the decade starting with six when I might need to consider a bit of help with a motor.

Yeah, that’s been known to keep me awake at night.

All that can wait. In fact it can fuck right off. Dylan might be raging against  the dying of the light, I’m sat here watching that light backlit by a still high sun and wondering if I can ride again tomorrow.

Longest day? Shortest reason not to get back out there

*not from my GoPro tho because Numpty here packed everything needed for a weeks worth of ‘nobody other than you is watching’ this footage except for the small matter of the harness to connect it to the ‘moobtube’ 😉

**This is the time of year where I say ‘I can already feel the nights drawing in’ and Carol attacks me with kitchen implement/spiky gardening tool/small piece of furniture for being such a grump.

It’s one of the most important cornerstones of our long relationship 🙂

*** FNAR. Just me then. Ok, as you were.

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