Do Grasshoppers Hibernate?

There’s been a rare sighting this week, a couple of them acually.

It seems a long time since those variables that are health, weather, diaries and other commitments all contrived to work together.  But these last couple of days have been such that no excuse would do.  It has been too good not to cycle.

But it’s been hard work, after a long lay off.  Those big strong hill-climbing thigh muscles have disappeared, replaced it seems by a couple of wobbly Stornoway Black Puddings strecthing out, pumping, aching.  And they seem to have a bigger load on board; for there’s a christmas pudding stretching lycra into shapes the designers could never have thought possible.

And having stopped, that last climb back to Grasshopper Towers proving a nice little warm down as I walked slowly home, so the knees begin to complain.  But I shan’t.  For it was a real joy out there.  Under a sky marked only with a jetstream of saltire, life was returning to the hedgerows.  The crisp, dried leaves of the beech are slowly giving up their grip, giving way to buds that will unfurl before long.

But the fields are quiet yet; outdoor lambing has yet to begin.  Strangely I saw no horses, though I returned with an appetite.  There is birdsong where of late there has been wind.  As I type the office door lies ajar, and blue tits and chaffinches serenade me in the way the radio can’t.

But the season ahead is mired in gloom.  For most of the cycleways in these parts seem to be taken over by construction traffic.  Some have been closed since before winter set in.  There is mud everywhere, broken tarmac and deep puddles.  And there are massive lorries carrying loads of who-knows-what back and forward.  These are not roads for a cyclist, not even for a motorist at the moment.

And the alternatives are filled with traffic.  Just this morning, on a brief (but not as brief as it should have been as The Grasshopper did it’s best impersonation of a tortoise) mile long stretch of the A road, two petrol tankers passed, waiting for the right moment and giving reasonable space thankfully, but they left me with a faceful of stour and dirt and fumes, followed by half a dozen cars desperate to get passed them too.  There is no fun to be had on these stretches.

The construction work could go on for months, for there is no sign of anything other than groundworks, timber felling, and road widenings, passing spaces and access routes.  They haven’t even started bringing in the bits that will eventually spring to life as wind turbines.  Still, at least they’re all going to be confined to distant parts, seen only by all the cyclists who use those roads on a daily basis.  It looks as though the single turbine applications along the valley floor may be quashed, but that’s another story for another day.

Now where did I put the Deep Heat?  And what time’s that dental appointment?  Oh pain, agony; it’s great to be back out on the road again.



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