We have new people in my office and they are starting to comment on the 'madness' of me still cycling on the bitterly cold days, and the bitterly cold rainy days. You know how that goes.
I could not stand to be so far removed from nature that I spend my life in climate controlled environments.
I set off out into the day and always long to keep on riding into the day or further into the evening, but work & mum-duty stops me from following my heart's calling these days. So making the most of these few short daily miles (now down to around 6 or 7 depending on the route- a far cry from the 30 miles I used to do) is the bit of the day that keeps me sane and is meditative with the constant rhythm of my pedal strokes. Relishing the only bit of time I get to myself in the day. And often the off-road sections are like my own personal highway - a more direct route into the town centre than the roads, where I'm more likely to see a flurry of deer bouncing past me than see other humans. Until I'm suddenly in the town centre; we're lucky in Burnley to have a greenway that takes us from a lovely wooded riverside track straight into a retail park almost in the town centre.
My evening ride home is far slower now - other than the beam from my bike light, the woods are pitch dark, even though there's an industrial estate alongside much of it. The gradients are barely visible, although I know them well. Clicking up & down the gears as the undulations unfold, who knows what gear you are in. My eyes scour the leaf stridden path for puddles or patches of thick mud or any stray brambles snaking across the track - I certainly do not relish punctures at this time of year.
Out of the woods on the small stretch through suburbia, I catch glimpses of tv sets through the gaps in living room blinds. The streets are my own as I snake through the avenues up to the crest of the hill avoiding the arterial road. I wouldnt trade those living rooms with my place on my bike for the world.
My final climb is though allotments where I always stop and look back over the town behind me. After this is a short bit on the main road before a fast swooping descent back home. I sit on my garden wall for a good ten minutes cooling down after my 3 mile climb. No stars tonight, just the hint of a moon shape behind the clouds.