Iron and Air

After a long wet winter, I have been grabbing sunshine and spending much less time at the keyboard.  This can only be a good thing.  My daily images on Blipfoto tell a story of warm weather and escape: on canals, on two wheels, on golf courses – some might say an unlikely combination but the stereotypical biker is a myth.  We are all differently made but we ride for the same reasons.

My good lady recently bought me a digital subscription to Iron and Air, an American bike magazine which combines images and words verging on the poetic. In my usual compulsive manner, I am working my way through every back copy – this from Dave Karlotski, Season of the Bike, in Issue 1:

“At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid.  All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony.  Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it’s as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me … “

Riding the arrow-straight Military Road that runs parallel to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland you cross paths with heavily laden lumber lorries carrying timber south from the forests at Kielder.  At 60mph they create a bow wave, an invisible wake of air that unsettles the bike at a combined speed in excess of 100mph.  For a very brief moment in time the air turns warm and heavy with the scent of diesel – it is an oddly intimate and uplifting experience.

... not into temptation. The dark side of Japan - Yamaha MT09 Tracer

“Cars lie to us and tell us we’re safe, powerful and in control.  The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, “Sleep, sleep.”  Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth:  we are small and exposed and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride.”

Wark ...

This post dedicated to Ian Bell, supplier of this Yamaha.

Warksfield Head

The advent of a public holiday is almost always synonymous with bad weather but not so this recent Easter weekend.  Easter Monday was not only fine but warm, or at least what passes for warm in these parts.

There is a series of walks on the Northumberland National Park website and we are slowly working our way through the lot – on Monday we did this one – Wark to Warkfield Head – a walk around Wark.  Actually we did just half of it heading down the road into Wark at the halfway point.  Despite the sun and warm air, the footpaths remain wet and boggy after heavy rain so the trek to Ramshaws Mill just promised more of the same. Another day perhaps.

The roads echoed to the glorious sound of V-twins rushing north to Kielder (an acquired taste, I know), jetliners scarred the skies, the fields were full of spring lambs corralled by over-protective mothers, everything lit by a clean bright light across a landscape unaware of winter’s end.

Walk at Wark ... Hay rake ... Turbine Horizon ... Tree ...

(click on the images to enlarge)

The turning year …

This post is almost certainly premature, there is plenty of time for more snow, ice and all that winter can bring.  Nevertheless, yesterday (18th February) was significant. For the first time since December the temperatures were high enough for the first ride-out of the year, a thirty five mile round trip taking in Matfen, Ryal, Birtley, Wark, Chipchase, Barrasford and Acomb.  There was no purpose other than the joy of riding and the thrill of threading country lanes with the wind in my face – actually it was quite strong and coming from all directions which can be disconcerting. When I returned, surprise, surprise, I could still feel the ends of my fingers – Spring must be just around the corner! 🙂

This is the Scrambler ticking over on the banks of the North Tyne at Wark – Happy Days!

The Scrambler ...

The Scrambler ...

The images were taken with an HTC One M8 Smartphone and processed in Photoshop and OnOne Perfect Photo Suite – click on the images to enlarge.

And here is some unconvincing proof of the change in the seasons – the obligatory snowdrops (not taken on a Smartphone):

More snowdrops ...