After seven weeks of cycling the rail trail it's time to say goodbye.
I've trundled along this 8km stretch so often I feel I've come to know every inch.
It's been good to me.
The time, the space, the solitude has been a welcome antidote to my normally hectic urban life.
I've loved seeing all the cows in their paddocks.
I've loved seeing all the birdlife -- parrots, wrens, fantails, finches, magpies -- flashing beside, above and occasionally in front of me.
I've loved not knowing what the weather might throw at me. Mud, wind, rain, burning sun, high winds. I've experienced them all.
And the smells. Every cyclist knows that it is the smell of the great outdoors that makes cycling such a great experience. I've loved having my daily cycle complimented by the fresh scent of eucalyptus, dew drying in the sun and the chalky residue of dust from the gravel roads.
The beautiful silence, with only the occasionally lowing of a cow, the bright shriek of an eastern rosella or the warbling of a magpie, has been welcome too. I had thought about cycling with my iPod, but why ruin the peace and quiet with rock music in my ears?
The silence has helped me cogitate on things. I've cycled along and composed all kinds of things in my head -- blog posts, feature-length articles, plots of novels -- but mostly I've just thought about the beauty of my surrounds and felt thankful for being able to experience it.
Of course, during this time I've also regained my fitness, shifted a little bit of weight and toned up my leg and tummy muscles.
I've also acquired a "cyclist's tan" complete with t-shirt marks and brown patches on my hands where my cycling mitts expose my skin to the sun.
Now, after my final 16km cycle, I also have to say goodbye to my bike. It's covered quite a bit of ground in seven weeks and looks a little worse for wear, but it's been reliable and comfortable to ride.
And it's nice to know that next time I return she'll be here waiting for me, along with the rail trail I've come to love so much.