Warning: the blog that follows was written earlier while under the influence of absolutely the best drug.
Just back from the most filthy gorgeous ride around the Forest of Dean all bathed in pure dazzling winter sunshine; really looking its Sunday best.
Probably the top ride I’ve had in four months and easily the most appreciated in a year. Surrounded by clear skies and with a couple of hours free, I really couldn’t resist the lure of the forest, particularly as I had a brand new pair of Panaracer Xc tyres on the Orange P7 to christen in finest Forest gloop.
On my tod but no matter. There is a particular delight in being alone (so long as I don’t wipe out in an area with no phone signal, obviously). My heart was lifting on the drive down to Cinderford (and not many people say that) with Joni Mitchell on the player and the anticipation of choosing my own route through sun-filled glades over frost, ice and mud.
It was still freezing cold. I could have done with the ear-warming snood under my helmet but circulation soon put an end to stinging earlobes. For long long stretches, it was just me and my bike on the forest trails. No music today. No need. Preferable to soak up the silence, broken only by the murmur of tyres on trail or the crackle of broken ice. Cycling over a bed of pine needles there really is just silence apart the odd burst of birdsong or mew of a buzzard.
So much to see. Burnished ferns glowing, the sparkle of frost and wet long grass – the fabulously bright rusty pink of a stand of leafless young trees all set off against the dark dark green of the conifers.
The familiarity of some areas is kind of cosy. Sallowvallets, where I stood on the sidelines and cheered no2 son in his first mountainbiking race, Boys Grave where I once came to grief in the deepest muddy rut with the boy too close behind me, groaning crossly”Oh mum!!” as he too had no alternative but to keel over sideways. Re-visiting my favourite downhill in Russell’s Enclosure I found it deserted and just as good as before.
I finished up back at the car with flushed, mud-spattered face, damp wild hair and glowing from head to toe. Days like these are rare. Flooded with top quality endorphins. Who needs mood-enhancing drugs when the best natural high is free?