Couldn’t Get to There from Here

You feel anticipation, excitement at what lies ahead, you, your bike and the road.

The future is unwritten as someone once said, well at least today is.

Mid-November but the sun is bright, the air is cold and the tarmac dry.

You push the pedals hard as you leave the road and move uphill and onto the cycle path.

At the top of the incline you pause for a moment and look down towards the Forth, sparkling in the winter sun.

Soon you are in town, the early morning traffic light, you are making good time, pause for a photo beside the millenium cycle marker and then onto the canal. Remember, you tell yourself, need to take the turn-off before the path gets bad, you find it and up and over the small bridge and into the park land.

Then the outskirts of town, into the countryside and down the quiet B roads that you imagine must have been so much busier than this in days gone by.

A brief stop to take on some fuel a chat with someone passing in their Land Rover and then you are off again. You feel a slight chill as you push-off, but soon feel warmer as you feel the sun on your back and your body heats up as you pedal, turn and glide up and down the hills.

Into the sprawling new town and along the paths, through the tunnels, subways, walkways hardly needing to cross a road with cars for what seems like an age.

Then somewhere between Livingston and Bathgate you slip down a path that brings you to the edge of a field and something catches your eye and you stop.

Standing there, a deer, alone in the noon-time mid-winter blazing sun.

The picture you take cannot do justice to what you see with your own eyes, nowhere near, only you and the deer will ever know that this moment happened at this time, on this day, in this place.

Then, on the move again, peddle round the field, over a bridge and now a path beside a railway line.

The countryside, far behind, you travel through the industrial past, the coal mines, the factories before giving way to the new.

Industrial estates, housing estates, odd-looking sculptures contrast with the images of a bygone age.

The day is moving on and you think it’s time to stop and eat.

When you planned this trip you thought of finding a warm and welcoming old-fashioned pub, with a roaring fire, food, beer and malt whisky. But time and location mean that Greggs will have to do.

You sit, look at your map, look at the time and think, not long until darkness falls, well at least this far, the wrong turnings haven’t been many and the sign posting has been good.

Back on the bike feeling good for the break you push on through the traffic and find the next path.

Another railway line and cycle path take you up above the town, the ground beneath you grows colder, frost appears and you feel the air chill.

You stop again, just to check your map and then you notice the light is slowly but surely starting to fade.

As you leave the path you meet the home time traffic, in the darkness you miss a sign and then another and another.


Your phone is nearly dead so, you find somewhere for coffee and to recharge.

You sit, look at maps, reassess your plans and then decide, no!

It’s not going to happen today, you need a plan B.

So, you set off again a new plan in mind and in the darkness you find your way, light on full-beam, hoping that it will last as you climb, twist, turn and glide down unfamiliar paths.

Then the paths change, better, smoother, some light and the river on your left-hand side.

You sense the city ahead and push on, faster, feeling drawn towards it like a magnet.

Ducking overhanging branches, jumping off to negotiate narrow ledges under bridges until the path before you spreads and you are travelling through parks and past museums illuminated in the night lights.

Then finally you reach Plan B and the station is ahead.

On board the train you sit, tired, exhausted by your days ride.

You think back on your day.

Getting lost, no old-fashioned pub and having to get the train.

So, it didn’t work out as planned, but wasn’t that all part of the fun?

And then you remember about that field, the sun, the stillness and that deer.

Yeah, you think, today was a great day for a bike ride.












About bernardharkins

Involved in Labour Party politics and a trade union activist. I live in Musselburgh and I am a Community Councillor. I am interested in running, cycling, reading and music, especially from the 60's.
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