Keeping it local…

I’m flying to the other side of the world in a few days, going for a long ride along the length of New Zealand with friends from that country, I cannot wait to get started, its a place I’ve only known for a few years but I feel at home there.

However my real home is here in Manchester, I was born here 56 years ago and have never really left, I’ve been riding bikes around this place for 50 of those years and still never tire of the place, today was my last chance to get a final ride in before flying out.

The last three days have been spectacular, icy blue days that are payback for weeks of dull grey rain are not to be missed, Saturday was a solo ride along the Cheshire lanes, soaking up the watery sunlight and testing my legs.

Sunday was a great social ride with the GUTM folks, a cold cold start to the day for us was rewarded with four full English breakfasts, a nice thirty five miles along crisp tracks with little mud.

Today was Paul’s day off, we had plans to head up the river to brew coffee and cook breakfast in the woods, meeting at ten on the canal in minus temperatures we decided that maybe brewing and cooking as soon as possible would be a good idea, the first bench we came to would do.

Strong coffee, sausage and bacon butties, home spun philosophy, crap jokes, bike nerdery and music talk was in order, an hour later and it was time to get moving and get the blood flowing.

Kenworthy woods at this time of year is usually too boggy to ride but the minus temperatures made it a pleasure, trails stiff with ice, bare trees allowing sunlight into the woods and almost no one around meant we could get really cheeky and follow some unknown (to us) tracks.

Before starting to head home we decided to ride just one more track along the stream, there’s usually nothing of note along here but today our decision was rewarded with a full five minutes watching one of the local kingfishers.

We got the full display, the electric blue flash was the giveaway, but instead of disappearing he perched on a branch above the stream oblivious to our presence showing off his golden chest plumage, looking straight at us he then flashed off again, the blue such a contrast to the monochrome surroundings.

All in all not a bad finish for a ride that’s never more than a mile or so from suburban Manchester, and a great send off for me.

Words and B&W pictures – Steve Makin

Colour pictures – Paul Rance

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