We talk a lot about the lovely long summer days we have up here in Scotland, mostly during the rather less lovely short winter ones, but in my experience once they actually arrive, we (by which I mean ‘I’ of course) aren’t that brilliant at actually making use of them. Yes, it’s now light enough to garden (or insert the outdoor activity of your choice) well after 9pm, but in practice by that time the sofa has called and I have answered and – our post supper stroll to the top of the hill aside – I spend my evenings doing much the same things in May as I did in the dark days of November, just with the curtains open.
However, my plan to do Ride to the Sun at the end of the next month (ulp) may put paid to that. Not only will I be spending one of the very shortest nights of the year joining in this eccentric overnight adventure, but the need to get some more miles in my legs first has meant making the most of the extended daylight. My near daily trips to Bigtown to help the Pepperpots settle in have upped my weekly mileage a bit, but I feel that if I’m going to pull off another century ride, I need to be doing at least 100 miles a week and I’m not quite hitting that yet. Time is at a premium, as it always is, but with the cycle campaigning easing off, my evenings are more my own. And so yesterday, with a fine evening in prospect, I took off by myself for a couple of hours round the hills to top up the weekly mileage.
I still struggle with the idea of going out for a bike ride without either a destination in mind or a companion to enjoy it with but the other half was firm in his decision to stay at home and tend the fire and keep an eye on the hares, so I had to make do with my own company. Well me, and the cuckoo calling at the top of the biggest climb as I stopped to take in the view. It wasn’t the sort of evening for spectacular sunsets, just a gradual fading of the light as I turned for home, trying not to curse the yarnbomber who had decorated a post box in a way that felt positively cruel to this doughnutless cyclist with another couple of hills yet to climb (it did at least remind me that I had Chelsea buns ready to bake in the freezer so I got some delayed gratification this morning once they’d defrosted).
In the end, once I’d shaken off the sensation that this was all a bit pointless, I settled into the idea of it and started to enjoy being out on the bike, just for its own sake. Our roads, never busy, are more or less deserted after 7 or 8pm, so I got to enjoy our B road, and the descent down from Nearest Village, without having to worry about thinking for the drivers behind me as well as myself (no, seriously, overtaking even the slow lady cyclist on that bend when there is a tractor coming the other way is a Really Bad Idea and you should maybe not do it). It wasn’t the longest or fastest or hardest of rides, but I got home after two hours and 20 miles feeling refreshed from an evening away from the dreaded phone, and somewhat more prepared for the coming adventure. And I also slept like a log, which is a bit of a bonus. All in all, I think, an evening well spent.