Kevin Pellatt: May 2020
It's a long way to Kirkby Stephen.
I could not believe what I was misreading, "You must go out only for the following reasons... exercise..."
So, exercise I will, even when the mind doesn't feel like it or if the body is saying "No, I need to rest to have any benefit from all this exercise". The eternal battle of mind and body; today they agree is a rest day or a stretching day and not a day for cycling up hills... and yet?
Yet the kit was laid out last night to avoid such prevarication and is pulled on unthinkingly; and the automated process continues, a thing for every place and a place for everything, shoes, sunglasses, gloves and crash hat, weather check to ensure adequate warmth and waterproofing, bike out, GPS set to 'ride'.
Habitually I reel off where I'm going although currently it is the same road out and back if I am to avoid people and dwellings.
I wobble away and shiver as always when the wind first hits and the sun slow to rise; I wait for my mind to wander elsewhere, the weather reports always say, "and elsewhere it'll be warm and sunny".
There are always people about even in the middle of nowhere, mostly locals, most farmers; there's room for us to pass and maybe a quick check that all is well. Land Rovers, Pick Up trucks, tractors some pulling trailers as they go about the fields to harvest the new lambs who have sprung up as the weeks have passed. They know not of social distancing and corona virus...
The early climb up onto the moor is always a battle; the cool air hits my warm lungs, I breathe deep as the hill steepens, sometimes a great photo opportunity arises, or a large vehicle can be heard approaching and I find a place to pull over, blow my nose, take a drink, a photo and a breather. Refreshed and breathing I gasp up onto the undulating plateau of Birkdale. There are few people to be seen on the top; private cars heading for the shops in Kirkby Stephen hoping that the early bird will catch the shops empty and the shelves full.
Head down, deafening wind in my ears like sea crashing onto shingle, gusts thump into my chest and I climb up past the county line and across the top. How far I go depends on how many people are about, often some parked vehicles, probably mostly dog owners leading their pets away from others. I catch the wind at the top and glimpse, miles distant, the mountains of the Lakes, then I turn for home.
The immediate silence fades as I hear the whirr of the chain and the cheeps of the birds; I relax, look around, sit up and let the wind carry me, alongside lapwings swoop and Meadow Pipets criss-cross the road and skylarks rise vertically in song on the wing and in the wind. I sip a blend of electrolyte and energy drink and head for home, trying to recall where the lambs with their mothers are hiding, behind dry stone walls or up on grass banks or, more usually, in plain sight in the middle of the road.
The drop off the moor that took about eight minutes to climb on the way up disappears in two minutes as I bottom out below Keld and then climb back up to home a mile and half further on.
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