I had a notion first thing yesterday morning that it was going to be a good day. The clues were there; wispy high cloud and patches of blue… then hallelujah, I found my afternoon was blissfully free!
No question but to sling the Orange P7 in the back of the car and head for the Forest for the first mountainbike of 2013.
It was so weirdly mild there was no need for the usual winter double tights, no need for full finger gloves even, or ear-warmers but the waterproof socks – a thoughtful Christmas prez from son #1- saved saturated toesies.
The light was flat when I arrived, with trees , and bracken all looking a little grey, broken only by vivid patches of bright green moss.
It was incredibly quiet too with just a few dog walkers here and there, about six or seven cyclists including dads and mums with kids and otherwise perfect wonderful peace.
As the cloud lifted and the sun broke through just before sunset, all the crinkly clingy beech leaves were fiery copper and even the silver birches had an orange glow about them, with the dead bracken transformed to burnished rusty red.
It seemed bizarre riding on 5th January without any snow or ice anywhere. I headed up a little-used track (with some difficulty, I must admit, not unconnected to at least 4lbs extra of Christmas ass) to the site of the old Trafalgar coal mine and realised the last time I was there was about the same time of year, riding with friends through three inches of snow. That’s what I call *proper* winter riding.
Near Trafalgar is a nice longish ridge which joins up with a fast smooth downhill before the obligatory stop to take in the view at Kensley Ridge. The sun had set and the sky was golden yellow across the wasteland where the Forestry Commission have clear-felled thousands of trees.
The ride back was in silent spooky twilight. I was half-expecting to see a family of wild boar trotting into my path but no such luck- even though the evidence of their turf-shifting disturbance is greater than ever.
Must tweak my gears though. The shift from middle to big ring was a bit unreliable. Now what was it again? One clockwise quarter-turn of the inner screw….or one anti-clockwise quarter-turn of the outer screw…. I’ll soon find out.
Wild boar damage – worse than ever.
Alas poor Santa, I knew him well…
Sunset over the ridge at Cannop
The view from Kensley Ridge