Saturday, 26 December 2009

Kicking back...

Kicking back at the end of family Christmas by proxy with my oldest friend, Keith, and his family in sunny North London. I'm missing the Peak, but it's no bad thing to remind yourself of how the southern half lives and I'm looking forward to seeing hills on all sides tomorrow. Just love the final stretch up from Chinley with Chinley Churn on one side of the road and Mount Famine on the other - feels like home.

A funny sort of day. I've single-speeded the Roadrat and fitted drops to it as well and it stowed away on the journey down. Imagine that. So this morning, there it was scratching at the front door like a febrile moggy. Or was that me?

At any rate, the ice has mostly melted, so I took off through the suburban wastelands, up to Barnet and beyond. Christmas reclaims London's roads for bikes, temporarily at least, and there's something lovely about humming past the seeping warmth of other people's Christmases. Brief glimpses through windows of people turned in on their families with just the odd runner breaking up the post-apocalyptic quiet. Cars hibernating quietly.

Running 32 semi-slicks and, compared to the 25s on Mog, you don't half feel the extra weight and drag on the ups. I think 42:16 with those tyres will kill my legs in the Peak. I'm just not that strong. But today it was just nice to skim along the lanes, take in the views and appreciate quiet roads.

I came back via the street I grew up in. Oddly familiar and oddly foreign at the same time. And somehow much, much smaller than I remember. How did it shrink so much? Familiar houses but with different people in and the one I grew up in looking slightly scruffy and unkempt, but with a shiny Merc sitting in the drive. Just odd, not sad, not nostalgic.

And then the cold water shock of total immersion in someone else's family Christmas. After four hours of solitary, reflective cycling.

Keith's parents are almost like surrogate family to me, I've known them my entire life. Grew up on the same street as him. Was born eight days before. Best man at his wedding. We're very different, but there's a comfort and ease and trust in familiarity that makes this an easy place to be right now.

Feels right.

Now lounging on the sofa of a sleeping house and channel-hopping sporadically in a forlorn quest to find something, anything, mindlessly watchable. It's easy to look down and spot the rubbish in the gutter, but look up and there are happy sheep in green fields.

Er, I think I need to go to bed.

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