A few days ago I had one of those sublime, snatched-from-nowhere rides. I had an hour to spare before the children returned from school and college and the evening ritual of food, TV, baths and chores began. Time for a ride.
The day had been cold (1 degree Celsius) and magically dry and clear so I head out towards Croxteth Country Park to see how the woodland trails were. I had a hunch that the season and the weather conditions would work some magic. And I was right.
My favourite local trails are usually difficult to ride for most of the year. In the summer, they’re usually overgrown with brambles, nettles and suchlike. During the autumn and winter, they’re usually too muddy to ride without having to clean the bike for an hour after every ride (which sort of defeats the purpose of a quick ride).
However, today was perfect. The ground in most parts was frozen solid and the vegetation had died back for the winter. So wrapped up in three layers and thick gloves, I swept around the trails as if it were a dry dusty summer’s day, only taking care for glassy areas of sheet ice. It’s been a year since I rode some of these paths, but it’s amazing how their every root, dip, rise and sketchy section gets imprinted in the memory.
I came home refreshed and later on, read Chris ‘Pondero’ Johnson’s wonderfully inspiring piece on the Micro Tour – a chance to snatch some of the pleasures of touring in just a few hours (like an S240 but without the sleepover!). I think next time I escape, with a little more time to spare, I’ll pack the coffee flask (or maybe the Esbit stove and Billy-can) and a snack, find a stump and brew up.