By the end of the event I had been on my feet all day. My head ached, my knees hurt and frankly, cycling home was the last thing I wanted to do. I briefly toyed with the idea of letting the air out of one of my tyres and telephoning my husband to explain that I'd had a puncture and needed collecting. In the end I felt that would be tempting fate and grumpily changed into my cycling gear and climbed aboard. I would slog slowly home, aiming simply to keep the pedals turning.
Then something rather wonderful happened. As I popped in the single-ear headphone allowing me to simultaneousl listen to the radio and oncoming traffic, I heard the first chords of my all-time favourite song: One Day Like This by Elbow.
As I set off, matching my pace to the swelling rhythm of Guy Garvey's anthemic love song, my mood lifted and my feet hardly seemed to touch the pedals. I floated out of town, heading for the familiar country lanes. Before I had finished bellowing the final chorus of "Throw those curtains wide" I'd swept past two other riders and passed across the bridge over the M6. Notoriously busy on Friday afternoons, I could see lines of slow-moving traffic north and south, their commute a hundred times more unpleasant than my own.
By now I was off the busy roads and spinning easily. Rabbits darted into hedgerows as I passed and overhead, a buzzard drifted lazily on the breeze, mewing like a soaring kitten. The lowering sun cast a red glow on the fields. “And only now I see the light”. I didn’t want my ride to end and so I diverted through a couple of surrounding villages, watching the residents begin their homecoming routines.
My headache had eased, my mood had improved and Elbow had fixed my knees. That’s why I ride and why I nag my friends to rescue their unloved bikes from the back of their shed and get pedalling. Because when a ride feels right, “One day like this a year would see me fine.”