(Photo credit- courtesy of Ben Hillsdon & Raleigh Bikes)
Simplicity. The very essence of cycling. Without all the distractions and clamour of life, so simple an act. The adjusting of the fastenings on my shoes, the jingle of keys slipping into my jersey’s back pocket and the clip-clop of pedal cleats as I cross the concrete patio toward my bike are the last disjointed sounds I’ll hear until my return from the ride..
I wheel the bike along the driveway, the tic-tic-tic of the freewheel fills my ears as it accelerates into a pleasing whirring and I throw my leg over the saddle, my feet leaving the ground to connect by instinct in one unbroken motion with the pedals. The chain winds its way through the first revolution of the drivetrain as I shift through the gears and hear the derailleur smoothly ship the chain across the sharp teeth of the machined sprockets.
The bike runs smoothly: clean, millimetre perfect, responding to my guidance, precise & alert, an instrument tuned to quietness.
I feel for the wind, anticipate its direction & force at each coming point of the ride, feel the warmth of the sun and the subtle changes within the shade as the evening’s advance gently lowers the temperature, raising dreamlike whisps of mist from the still river and from within the low lying contours of the riverside meadows.
If I was wearing my heart-rate monitor I know the readout would tell me my pulse was 160 beats per minute. If had my trip computer affixed to the bars the speedometer would display 35kph. But this evening there is no need for electronic noise: sensors, average bpm & Km/h calculations and interval timings- this ride marks the start of summer and I ride by sensation alone. My heart, legs & breathing have slipped into a steady rhythm in tune with the workings of the bike and the nuances of the road as it rises and pitches, sweeps and darts. The hush of the tyres flows over the roads, my breathing carries faster on the wind as I increase the effort up over the rises, the spokes singing softly through the air as I stream down sun dappled descents. Another sleepy villages rolls by as the chain rushes silkily through the gears. And then- there it is, in the exertion, the machinery, the landscape: simplicity.