Past the rows of parked lorries, taking their rest for the night – curtains drawn across windscreens to conceal sleeping drivers. One has its door a fraction ajar and a sharp line of light spills onto the tarmac…speed up a little.
The chip van that will provide polystyrene wrapped breakfasts when the sleeping drivers awake sits dormant, waiting to be useful again.
Spinning legs create a mesmerising hum: the only noise except for the wind, which is against me now but will be my friend on the way home. The straight road stays straight and thoughts wander to a ride last year when the ground here was coated in sea foam. Memories of Winter riding, and how all of that will soon be here again. Inhale the not-that-cold night and wonder how many days until breath is visible in icy air.
Violently jolted back to reality by a speed bump.
The straight road reaches its end, with a curve into the harbour. Clumsily negotiate barriers and gates to cross the water. The clank of pedal on metal.
One day I’ll have this down to an art.
The industrial road that offers nothing of interest. DIY stores loom tall and grey, the sinister light of Golden Arches illuminates a patch of pavement, and the stale smell of deep-fried food lingers in the air.
Oh, some life. Skaters and kids riding BMX in the dark.
Relief at reaching the river, and the bridge that always makes me smile. Pause in the middle, and watch reflections dance on the water.
There is some odd comfort in the sound of traffic.
Arrive at the other side, and head for the fields where aeroplanes are sleeping.
Past the multitude of warning signs, over some more speed bumps, past a parked car which I glance at, and then quickly away again. Lovers have found their spot for the night.
Speedily onwards then, and to a bend in the road. There are some steps over there, which ascend into nothing but a patch of darkness. It’s asking to be explored: bike over shoulder, upwards..
Sudden intake of breath. The other side of the river stretches out under a huge railway bridge, and to my left I can see where I’ve come from. Beauty when you’re not expecting is perhaps the most beautiful. For several minutes I stand on the same spot, and feel utterly content.
The deafening sound of a Brighton-bound train shakes me from my dream-like state.
I’d forgotten that other people existed – that there was anything but this.
Homeward via a path that definitely isn’t suitable for a road bike. Bite lip in concentration, zig zag paving slabs threaten to bugger tyres, but somehow avoid a puncture.
All I am to anyone else is a stuttering light.
A near intimate moment with a wall that jumps out of nowhere, and back onto a sensible bit of road.
Riding back into town like an excited child who’s in on a secret. Little people in windows watching televisions who’ll never know where you’ve been.
You and the bike, in your little glowing cocoon, going from nowhere to nowhere.