For all those who complained they couldn’t find (or more likely be bothered to track down) the current copy of The Ride Journal which I managed to get a short piece published in (warning, sound of own trumpet blowing), below is said piece. As what has been a particularly good summer now fades away it sprung to mind as a fitting tribute.
‘She comes in colours everywhere, she combs her hair, she’s like a rainbow….’
I can feel her, I’m sure I can. The feeling born of knowledge of the indisputable fact of time, intertwined with memories of warmth past. Memories that glow like embers to keep our spirits warm through the cold of winter. Memories carried by so many generations of mankind inhabiting the outer latitudes they are practically hard wired into our DNA.
Yes, she’s not far away now, I know it.
But no fanfare heralds her arrival. She makes her appearance with subtle whispers, quietly breathing colour back into the world. The mere hint of her warmth bringing everything to life. And of all her legions of worshipers the cyclist is the most devout. Because to us she is truly beautiful. Through the winter we have endured. Bleak, baron, still, solitude, suffering. All beautiful in its own way. A time of quiet contemplation, of looking inwards. A time to lay the groundwork for the good times ahead. A time to plan and scheme and dream. For when she comes the warmth of her touch brings endless possibilities.
And so it begins. Slowly at first. Her presence shortening the shadows and quickening the pulse. She inhales and stretches, pushing back the darkness to lengthen the days, then exhales a soft warm breath to gently caress the blossom from the trees. The flirtatious affair begins. She warms the earth, injecting speed into trails which were a sticky quagmire only weeks before. She dares us to bare a little flesh, still pasty from the long dark days. Tarmac dries and magically shrugs off the winter debris. The phone begins to ring more frequently as riding buddies awake from hibernation, plans are made and dates are fixed. Credit cards take a beating as trips are booked and shiny new things bought, for bling comes alive in the sparkle of her eye.
Suddenly speed hides around every corner. The flypaper like grip of clean dry tarmac, the dry dusty hard packed trails, all begging you to shun your trusty old friend the brake lever. Warp speed blurs together an intoxicating mix of vibrant colours and fragrant smells. Whether charging hard on the front, mates in tow, or chasing wheels through dust thrown into shafts of sunlight, the enjoyment is pure. The safest lines of months past give way to the fastest, as bikes and bodies are pushed to their limits. Be it for podium places or grins on faces she beckons us on in our pursuit of happiness.
But she can be a fickle mistress. No sooner have we embraced her love, the steamy affair in full swing, and she disappears. Sometimes for days or even weeks at a time leaving a sudden cold void in place of her warmth. Where is she, how could she desert us like this? But this is the lesson she wants us to learn. That her time here is fleeting and we must savour every minute together. And so we do.
When she returns, as suddenly as she left, the love is even stronger. The days are long, the rides and good times longer still. Sweat drips from skin scorched brown from her touch, as memories are formed for the times ahead. Snapshots stored in the albums of our mind to be viewed with wistful eyes in darker times. Images of intense green and blue, of fluffy white clouds adrift in endless skies, of shafts of sunlight through lush canopies overhead, of long shadows cast by the warm evening light. Thick and fast they come accompanied by a symphony of noise and smell.
We live in sultry bliss whilst in the back of our minds we try to hide the truth. The inevitable truth that soon she will be gone. The hazy days now seem soft and slow, almost to protest the onward march of time that brings the end of the affair ever closer. It is now that she whispers to the late comers. “Where were you, I told you I was coming, but soon I’ll be gone.” For she has no time for the couch potatoes, the oh so busy, the poorly trained and poorly planned. They may see her and feel her but they will never truly love nor be loved back.
And so as subtly as she arrived she begins to fade away like leaves in the breeze. The last weeks of her light some of the softest and most beautiful. Finally the luminous glow of her presence ebbs away replaced by colours of another tone. We are left with just memories of her warmth and the adventures she gave. The only comfort now in the knowledge that one day she will return and the affair will begin again.
I love you summer.