Like Tony’s, the weather in my part of Australia was divine today. We started cold at -2C but made it to 16C. Of course, I was inside working. But I was determined to get in a solstice ride.
When I was at university, I rode with a group of mountain bike guys. We rode most nights for several hours – jumping up, over, down or across any obstacle we could find around town. On the solstices and equinoxes, we would meet up about 9pm and then ride through the night until the next morning. Then we would ride up to a hogback ridge that overlooked town and watch the sun come up. The guys would all drink spirits and smoke various things in celebration of the occasion (I always had to be at work at 6.30am, so I couldn’t partake and missed the winter sunrises). Those quarterly rides are one of my great memories of that time in my life.
So I needed to mark this occasion. The winter solstice this year is also symbolic for me. It was just a few days before the summer solstice that I got really unwell. I am now getting closer to a diagnosis – just one more test and a specialist to go. So this solstice to me symbolises ‘coming into the light’, healing and slowly getting better, just as the daylight minutes and hours gradually return, too.
I had dinner plans with my cycling friend, Don, who is, himself, just emerging from a dark period emotionally. I was to pick him up at 5.45pm, though, so this meant I wouldn’t be able to do my normal 22 km ride. While we had a wonderful dinner and I was delighted to see him sounding good again, it did mean I had to rush the ride.
So I decided I would do my short river route, and wherever I was right at sunset, I would get a photo. (I thought I would end up next to the dirt speedway – not particularly photogenic – but luckily I got a little further).
I didn’t have time for a river float for the guys to celebrate, nor even time to take more than one photo. So I present a photo of the guys and me just metres away from the Murray River at exactly 5.08 pm as the sun set on the shortest day of the year. Amazingly, my odometer read exactly 13.00 kms when I got home – 13 is a lucky number for me, so I hope it is a good omen for the ‘coming of the light’.