Thursday, April 30, 2009

CYCLING: Sets for the soul

The sun was waiting for us at seven fifteen as it seems to do in April, positioned precicely between two Downland bushes.

We turned behind The Downs Golf Club's par five second, puffing, and there, see?, millions and millions of miles away, but in the exact same place it had been yesterday and the day before, at the exact same time.
How does it do that?

Good evening, it said.
We agreed and said thank you.

It had been busy laying out a feast too; stretching, as the valley did, to East Dean and northwards to Jevington, cast in gold.

And weirdly, we noted, no queue.
Are there honestly better things to be doing with your life? Are there two sun sets going on in Hampden Park?


Have people forgotten
What a sunset can do
For the soul which is suffering
As ours tend to

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

CYCLING: Six sunny days say spring

The sunset is back the right side of clocking off and all of a sudden, in the space of a week and no more, this corner of southern England is awoken.

Amongst watch and phone adjustments and the very occasional sale at work, three bikers are jubilant – to us at least, more than anyone else has cause to be.

The sun may be here, but we’re the ones who’ve earned it.

Months of greyness, slippery track, leaves and roots, frozen fingers in districts of peaks and the ever-present threat of frosty half an hour in the back garden with the hose and one’s bike, are gone. Gone in the kind of way which makes you unsure they were ever here.

But here they were. They fought us body and soul. They lost. And now, and in this week of elemental surrender, it is sweetest. The spoils are all ours.

We’re fit, we’re strong, we’re giddy.

Dan’s full of cold, but that aside, it’s perfect.

As our comrade recovers Neil and I have peddled over the Downs from Old Town – up the tarmac escarpment like it wasn’t there – and around our 45-minute loop in ten minutes less than last summer – five of the last seven evenings.

Just then, between those paragraphs, we did it again, for the sixth.

The sixth sunset over East Dean, Friston and Jevington. The SIXTH in six days. Literally, beat that? Ha.

I sit here sweating delight, sweating glee. I’m sweating the prospect of the months ahead.