It hasn't been a good week for riding, mostly thanks to my back giving me considerable grief that only now, after several days of firing Ibuprofen down my neck, is it starting to ease.
Just the one ride this week then, and that was a short bimble around my regular, but always interesting, loop.
I must've been around this loop, and variations of it, hundreds of times now, but it never fails to invigorate or fascinate in some way or other. Part of that though is down to being a bimbler in the first place, if I were given to spearing through the lanes like a missile chasing some Strava interval or whatever, I'd be missing out on so much of what these particular lanes, and and the countryside in general, have to offer.
There's always a photo to be found, somehow. I keep thinking I must've wrung every photo possible out of this loop, then I go for a ride and against all the odds end up coming home with something captured to portray the ride, or the countryside and how it appeals to me and so on.
Double gate to the left is the entrance to a solar farm, which will feature in, but not be the subject of, another picture shortly...
I feel happiest in these lanes too, the familiarity is comforting and relaxing, and though it sounds strange to say, I feel safe in the countryside, I feel at home.
Less than 2 miles out from home, but by the time I reach this section of my favourite lane I'm starting to build body heat and also acclimatise to the cold I initially felt on setting off. These high banks and overhanging trees always offer protection from aggressive cross winds and slicing rain, and so I invariably start to feel all the stresses draining out of my body and mind as I coast down through this section, often stopping to take it all in and just enjoy the moment.
But there is also the chance that something has changed, either natural in the way of the local flora finally flowering for instance, leading to a previously dull green bank becoming alive with vibrant colour, or by man in the way of activity in the fields.
Just poking about places like this bridge above, is a great way to relax and spend a few minutes.
Embrace the slop! I hate having dirty bikes and trousers all the time, but the benefits of riding through winter far outweigh the negatives.
Then there are the encounters to be had. Sometimes with dog walkers who stop for a brief chat while I'm messing with the camera or just admiring a particular view for the third time that week, or it may be with horse riders, or a brush with something majestic or magical, or both, in the form of the local wildlife. Usually this would be a Hawk or Buzzard or whatever (I need to A - start wearing my prescription glasses on rides and B - To learn how to identify these birds so I know what they are!) dropping out of a tree and swooping up the road ahead of me before banking off to one side and soaring away above a field. An all too fleeting glimpse of graceful wing span and upturned wing tip feathers that is simply awe inspiring.
A Stoat, or a Weasel, (see above for reasons for poor descriptions given here...) was a real highlight, and so far, a single shot experience, my having not seen another since.
On this ride the other day it was another animal that caught my attention, and breath, when I had an encounter with a Hare. I was drifting along fairly easily with the blustery wind buffeting me from the west when I heard a brief flap of panic and rustle of grass and caught a glimpse of something brown launching out of the verge and into the field to my left. I stopped of course, as did what I could now see was a Hare, and we cautiously eyed each other. Slowly so as not to startle the creature more I reached for my camera in the bum bag (an ugly item to wear but for being quick on the draw with a camera they are hard to beat) and switched it on and zoomed it in before bringing it to my eye. These meetings are always over in seconds and the urge to get the camera out quick has to be tempered with the need to not create sudden movements or sounds. My target hopped a bit further away and once again stopped, turning to the side to better keep an eye on me, and presenting me with a most graceful and handsome stance to capture. I managed three shots before he, or she, decided that was enough attention for one day and disappeared fast into the distance.
A little bit of bimbling magic - an encounter with a Hare, and what a proud and elegant looking chap he (might be a she for all I know but I'll go with chap) is. Tregassow Lane Solar Farm in the background.
Thrilled to have seen such a beast, I was immediately disappointed to realise I'd left the camera on a high ISO after some gloomily lit photo dickery earlier. Checking the rear screen showed I'd caught the Hare nicely in the frame but I still crossed my fingers as I rode home that the image quality wouldn't be ruined in a blaze of fuzzy noise.
Thankfully, after a bit of adjustment to the RAW image, I had some images that even when viewed at 100%, weren't too bad, and the encounter had been recorded in pixels rather than just memory.
So a bad week for riding, but a good week for a bit of the magic of the countryside.