Today was the sort of bone-cold day that aches by the time you’ve ridden five miles. But so what? I was out on the Ural, not (as I have far too often been lately) stabbing with increasing irritability at my laptop keyboard in the office, fretting about clients, deadlines, the state of the nation. It was good to be cold. And out.
I had nowhere to go. That always makes for a good ride if I can actually enjoy the lack of focus rather than being troubled by it. It leaves all the possibilities open. That, in itself, is exercise for the soul. No targets. No deadlines. Just a Cotswold-wide web of lanes, single tracks and winding. And it was perfect for unpicking my rather over-tired, stressed and snarly mood.
I turned the bars for Minster Lovell, thinking a pint and a prod through the Sunday papers by the winter fire in the Swan might do. But the car park was full of midrange BMWs and shiny, snarl-grilled Audis. I couldn’t face the idea of a barful of chinos, polo shirts and blather about KPIs, so I rode on.
The lanes jinked through Field Assarts, Fulbrook, Swinbrook, Asthall Leigh, Mount Skippett. Village names that deserve their own stanza. And, as I rode along the ridge by Field Assarts, I was suddenly grateful to the corporadoes for repelling me from The Swan.
The winter sun was starting to lower in the sky, turning the whole of the ridgetop russet. As one can do on a combo, I put the sidecar wheel on the verge, snicked the ‘box into reverse to hold it and stopped the engine. And did a bit of being.
Apart from a desultory chorus of light baa-ing from the sheep working their way against gravity on the ridgeside, there was just the ticking of the cooling engine. By now, the filigree of the winter trees was picked out against the reddening sun. The sheep, clearly with more interesting things to do than gaze at sunsets, baa-ed on.
I’d like to be able to claim this simple stop, just a few minutes of peace, of beauty, restored me to equilibrium and good nature. What it did was give me a sense that’s been missing for a couple of months. A sense of balance. Rather ironic on a combo.