Seasons

This weekend has been beautiful and sunny in southeast England. The bluebells are finishing their epic display in the woods. I saw houses and pubs clad in beautiful wisteria on my ride today, their heady aroma wafting across the road. The first British asparagus of the year has hit the shops and I stuffed a couple of bunches into my jersey pockets as I finished my ride. Spring feels like it is finally here with – fingers-crossed – summer not far behind.

Having plugged through a rather wet and often freezing winter, it’s a huge relief for some warmer whether to come round. Shedding the layers and cycling in shorts and short sleeves feels less restricted and faster as does breaking out the summer bike. Riding in warm is probably genuinely faster too as tyres roll better in the heat (think F1) and air density drops reducing drag. It just makes me want to ride until I run out of road…

But at the same time I’ve been watching the Giro d’Italia which started on Friday. It’s my favourite grand tour of the year. This year it slightly improbably starts in Israel. Looking at the landscape you can tell it’s warm and dry and sunny. I’m not sure I could cope with that.

For me the turning of the seasons is one of the pleasures of living in a temperate climate. As a cyclist all the seasons have their pleasures and you are uniquely placed to observe  them.

Winter brings the dangers of frost but also the magic of early morning rides in the dawn light, cyclists silhouetted in the mist…

…as spring rolls round nature wakes up: snowdrops to primroses to daffodils and cherry blossom to bluebells and chestnuts; the first and most verdant leaves on the trees; the whiff of wild garlic; asparagus and smelly wee…

…coming into summer the oilseed rape carpets the countryside in yellow, the cuckoos and swifts return and fields of wheat turn golden. There is also the risk of a thunderstorm and with it exhilirating refreshment of heavy rain on a humid day…

…in late August and early September the hedgerows become laden with blackberries, there are plums and damsons and apples on the trees, and then the sloes arrive. Later in Autumn the leaves start turning – a final hurrah before the cycle completes.

I probably sound like a complete hippy writing that but I think I’d struggle to give it up. In the last few years I’ve tried to find ways to celebrate the turning of the seasons. Last week I led a bluebell hunt down into the Surrey Hills and had a great turn out for a gentle ride. For three years now I’ve run a falling leaves ride to Winkworth arboretum to see the autumn colour. My club runs and end of year ride as the season ends. I just need somthing to celebrate the summer – answers on the back of a postcard…

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