It’s the light that wakes you. Well, sometimes the birds, sometimes the weather and in my case, once a greenkeeper who started very early, but usually the light. Waking up under canvas is different to waking up at home. There’s no sense of urgency, no rush, no dread for what the day may hold.
The details of your routine will become your own – some simply must have that morning brew to get started, others happily forego it. Some need breakfast, others don’t. Some pack up quickly, others take their time. It doesn’t matter, and as the saying goes, you do you, and I do me.
What everyone has in common with their routine is that it will involve packing up, putting everything back into panniers, or bikepacking bags, mounting their bikes, and setting off.
As you pedal through the landscape, at whatever speed you prefer – there are no right or wrong speeds – the burn in your legs tell you the gradient, without needing to look at any cycling computer. The wind through your hair lets you know how fast you’re going.
As you explore the landscape, at human pace, you stop whenever you feel like it. Sometimes, when you crest a hill, the light is just perfect, and the view takes your breath away, so you linger for a while.
Around you, there is life – you both hear and see the birds, you laugh at a mouse alternating between running and jumping across the road, and you surprise a stoat peeking out of a hedge. High above, a kestrel soars magnificently, so you stop for a while, mesmerised by its effortless grace.
The delicious smell of wild garlic lingers in your nose for a while after you cycled past the patch growing along the edge of the lane.
Occasionally, as you cross busier roads, you see the seemingly permanently-angry faces of the drivers, all rushing everywhere, all going slow because they’re all rushing everywhere, and you feel sorry for them, realising they cannot even begin to comprehend how completely captive they are.
As the sun starts lowering in the sky, you cycle on towards tonight’s camping spot, not yet knowing exactly where it will be, but confident that – like always – you’ll find a great little spot to spend the night.
The smile spreads over your face as you realise that suddenly you’re free.