WHENEVER we are worn, weighed down and world weary, the way to rejuvenation and refreshment lies well within our reach. It is as near as our shed, and as far away as our imaginations and our wheels will carry us.
Enwrapped in our garb of gabardine, twill and tweed, cap tilted jauntily upon our head and pipe in pocket, we trundle our favourite steed from the shed and mount this miraculous, seemingly inanimate Pegasus made of mere metal.
Our hands firmly wrapped round the grips, we push down on pedals, engage chain with planetary gear and, curiously, with this closed circle of chain begin to break loose of the bounds of time and place and with each passing furlong feel the first flushes of new-found freedom.
Out of the dark, ashen grime of city and the banal sameness of suburb, we send wheels rolling round and round and sally forth into the freshening air whilst the cyclometer cheerfully clicks off the miles in tenths.
Far from smoking motorcar and lorry, into the verdant green we go. A lusty beck bubbles up before us and seems to slither like snake or serpent as it slides astride the ribbon of road rolling under the gum-soft tread of our tyres of India rubber. Crossing the cobblestone spine of an arched bridge, on its nether side we see the macadam dissipate into a drover’s lane and ramble past a crofter’s cottage, the play of sunlight and shadow seducing us down this road less traveled.
A spot of weather? Not to worry. We shall don our capes, so’westers and leggings if need be, and make the rain our friend as it patters harmlessly off our oilskins and provides us with a drum-like beat to quicken our pace. Across the plashy places in the track we skim, chasing the elusive sunbeam which shineth somewhere behind the cloud just round the bend.
The skies are clearing now and in a while we shall stop and dismount under the swaying shade of ancient oak and stately elm, unpack the pressure paraffin stove and drum up a delightful kettle of tea to accompany our scones and potted beef-and-watercress sandwiches for elevenses or luncheon. Ensconced under the trees’ verdant tracery, we imbibe the steaming amber nectar which reflects on its undulating surface the wide world above and holds it captive there within the thin, delicate lasso of a porcelain tea cup. As we contemplate this lovely little paradox, we realize from what slender strands life dangles, what a fine and fragile line delineates the detestable from the delectable, and that it has been but our imaginations and our winged wheels which have whisked us off to this new and delightful place. We have indeed journeyed forward . . . by but bicycling backwards.
BICYCLING BACKWARDS is a place which celebrates the wistful whimsy of slower days and gentler ways awheel. Join us, won’t you, as together we bicycle backwards toward that better place which beckons our better selves and awaits us all just beyond the horizon, just around the bend.
The Art of