The map is not the territory.

May 1, 2013

Start heading out from Cove, looking for Redmoss Road. Uphill, into the wind. Don’t work too hard. Roadworks. Try the nearside pavement. It’s blocked off. Cross over. There’s a grass verge. There’s a man walking a Labrador, too. He’s seen us, he stops. The dog is on a lead and well-behaved. Strange to see roadmenders at work on a Sunday. Must be a gas main or something important. They rarely mind cyclists, usually nod, wave, or smile, are surprisingly happy to get out of the way. I suppose it lets them stop working for a few seconds and breaks the monotony. I feel bad that they’re working and I’m out having fun, but they never seem to care.

Find the turning, it’s just like the map said, though the map marks a watercourse you can’t see. There’s a barrier. I get off and push the bike under, ducking. Then I see there’s a gap that would be rideable. C tries to stay in the saddle and duck the barrier, but his backpack gets stuck. Down the stump of closed road to the edge of the dual carriageway. There’s little traffic, cross over. This is Redmoss Road proper, we’ve found it, it’s really here and it’s not a dirt track, but proper tarmac, if a little old. No resurfacing here for a while. Made obsolete by the A956.  Round the back of Loirston Loch, round the back of the industrial estate, round the back of beyond. Nature reserve. Barren hilltop. Still on a climbing false flat. Still windy. Just keep the gear turning over, don’t push it, don’t expend too much energy, just keep rolling on. Reach the top. Change gear. Get ready for the descent, let the speed build, keep turning the pedals. Make a right just before the junction, stay off the dual carriageway and keep to the road that skirts the housing estate. Straight down towards the river. Downhill, free speed, enjoy it, keep your momentum through the turns and junctions. The bottom. Pavement, pedestrian crossing, footpath, by the river, under the road bridge, back up the other side. Keep riding along the pavement. Next bridge, cross over. The pavement is the same width as the handlebars. Nothing coming the other way, fortunately.  By the river again. Pedestrians, dog walkers. Little tunnel, up and out onto Holburn Street. Cross over. Have to think about the way now. Don’t go too hard, think about when you’re going to have to stop, where to turn, how far ahead you can see. Cross over another dual carriageway, and now uphill. “Road Closed Ahead” is an invitation to cyclists. Suburban road, detached two-storey houses, parked cars.  Little traffic. Ignore no-right-turn signs. Take a back lane. just keep turning the pedals, keep your wits about you, plan the route ahead in your mind, what the turnings look like, where to look for traffic, where to accelerate. Drops of rain. What? It’s a sunny day. Wet spots on the face. It’ll stop as suddenly as it started.


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