Jesus it was hard work getting out this morning!
Up at 6, as usual, so timing wasn’t the issue…
I made coffee, meditated (yes you heard me!) fussed and fed one of the cats. Smurf and I share these early mornings more often than not and we’ve developed a nice understanding over the years… Both being quiet, solitary characters we pleasantly exchange our greetings and leave each other be.
I wasn’t able to make concrete plans with any of the gang today, as I’d promised Justine (my partner) that she had priority. It was going to have to be an early one, or an afternoon outing. I didn’t like the look of the forecast for the second half of the day and as I’m always up at stupid o’clock I opted for an A.M departure.
When I know I’m riding solo I do have a tendency to procrastinate, but that wasn’t really the issue either…
The weather was a bit meh, but that too, wasn’t that big of a deal…
With no need to rush and not a huge amount of motivation I got the bike ready, got myself ready, brushed my remaining teeth 😀 and headed out.
Without direction I managed fairly well to make my way to the end of the road. I really didn’t know where to ride? And still couldn’t actually decide if I wanted to at all?!
Feeling restless I slowly kept turning the pedals regardless, and by the time I reached the trail at Stretford I’d made a loose decision…
I’d head for the River Mersey. I’ve been reading ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm’ by Roger Deakin recently (which is wonderful btw) and I think my subconscious was heading for some trees…
I think by trying to solve the riddle of where to ride/what to do/where has my motivation gone this morning, I was somehow working on the bigger issue in the background. The whole Microcosm/Macrocosm thing, make any sense?!!
Blessed by the hour, I had what I really needed straight away… Peace and solitude.
I am very lucky to live so near to such a large expanse of green. The River Mersey, Bridgewater Canal, Sale and Chorlton Water Parks and the surrounding area means great escape is pretty much on my doorstep! It’s not the ‘Wild’ and it’s not the glorious, quintessential English countryside, but it contains all that’s good about the above places in small form. All the things that do us good.
I spent 20 minutes or so with the local dead, then headed through the first batch of trees towards the river.
I know the area and it’s spaghetti’ed pathways pretty well, so I was able to take a fairly Zen approach to direction. I took every interesting cut through, every newly trodden shortcut, sat at a new-to-me bench (I stayed until I could bare the Mosquitoids no longer!)
I ticked one box nice and early, I like to get a couple of nettle stings on the legs as soon as possible (anyone else do this?) it’s also fairly important to get something (usually clothing) snagged on a branch or two.
I like pushing through the overgrown, especially easy (and wonderful) at this time of year when higher temps and the inevitable rain turn these areas into a veritable jungle.
After solid exploration I headed down river towards Chorlton Water Park, where I had a mind to cross over to Kenworthy Woods and exhaust the trails there too.
I spent a good while going around in circles, criss-crossing, doubling back, exploring dead ends… Aimlessness can often be a very positive thing, certainly was for me this morning!
Definitely a fair bit of nostalgia involved in this seemingly haphazard circuit, there’s that subconcious at work again! So much so, after leaving Kenworthy Woods and heading back up the river towards Sale Water Park I took the old pathway that splits Sale Golf Club in two.
I’ve not ridden/trodden/anything down that path since I was a teenager! It leads to a bridge over the M60, and also to Fairy Lane…
Loads of stables, assorted caravan places and football fields, etc… It was also at one time, long ago, where I used to go for Karate lessons! It dead ends after a few twists and turns, but I enjoyed the little detour and it gave me lots to mull over as I 180’d and made my way back to the river.
Exchanging a few “good morning’s” now, as more people were up and about. Still nice and quiet though 🙂
Past the Jacksons Boat pub, then a left turn away from the river. I was intending to skirt around the far side of the Water Park and head home, but as I got to the Visitors Centre I noticed that the little Cafe was open!
Bacon barmcake, Americano with a splash of milk, bench? Thanks very much!!!
After a nice spot of #benchappreciationsociety action I felt the inevitable (albeit lazy) spots of rain. I’d had my fun, time to head home! Nice and gentle, still no need to rush.
I had to take shelter from a brief downpour for a few minutes, but it didn’t last long.
As for the bigger issue…
I’m restless, I always have been… There’s a paragraph in Roger Deakin’s book that follows on from a passage about losing his father when he was 17.
It resonates. Having lost my Dad at 16 it really does.
I’m not mawdlin, far from it and I know this is a cycling blog! But that’s the point, for me at least, so bear with…
I struggle with life, always have. It can often interfere with my motivation to do the things I love to do, but the bike helps every time! As it always does, it gets me out in the fresh air, it helps me find my motivation, it helps me take care of myself. It gets me back on the path…
3 hours on the bike ain’t bad for someone who couldn’t be bothered this morning! 😉
Words and pictures – Paul Rance