I nearly didn’t go out for this ride.
Having missed the perfect conditions on Saturday morning, I was a bit annoyed at myself for not making use of them. Now, as I heard the light winds outside my window on Sunday morning, I decided that that would have to be my ‘punishment’. Worse, the clear blue skies of Saturday had been nudged aside, replaced by an almost misty, overcast greyness. Hardly an inspiring sight.
I weighed it up, considering that it was not yet even Spring, and I’d have a thousand more opportunities for rides in the coming weeks and months. And yet, and yet…
The ride took me along my usual go-to route: along Calverton Lane towards Beachampton, but this time I took a detour via Thornton and Thornborough, then back via Nash. The headwinds hung around for the first forty minutes or so and, although I was glad I’d forced myself out, it was indeed a struggle. The above photograph was taken as I took a breather on a short descent towards Thornton – one of a few little 30-second pauses during which I got my breath back and had a sip of drink.
It wasn’t yet 9am, and I passed very few cyclists. I’m not sure if it was the early hour or my lack of a roadbike, but I received fewer greetings in return than usual. One or two were definitely as a result of bad timing: the last thing you want, as you finally, slowly, crest a long climb, is someone coming in the opposite direction, coasting along happily, smiling and sending a “Hello!” your way. In these situations a grimace, or at best a nod of acknowledgement, is a perfectly adequate response.
But as I approached Nash, things became easier. The view from Nash is often quite inspiring, and it makes for a decent place to stop briefly before heading on. This morning, with fast-moving clouds, spotlights of sunshine moved quickly across the flat landscape below. I ate a quick banana, then pushed off for the wonderfully smooth descent towards Stony Stratford. I’ve ridden up this little rise many times – it’s not particularly long or steep, but the last section towards the top almost kills me. Riding down it for a change was bliss.
Indeed, Strava allows me to note that this 50m descent from Nash allowed me to hit 55km/h. I’m a lot more comfortable hovering around 20-25!
And then, as my route took me back along the same section from Beachampton, through Calverton and the Wealds, I had the confidence that where I’d faced a headwind on my first leg, I would now have the tailwind on my side. There’s some weird science around head and tailwinds affecting cyclists, but thankfully my prediction had been correct, and the final third of my route was incredibly enjoyable. I’d finally found my stride, and now the light wind was helping me along.
Rides like this, where you have to force yourself out, are so often worthwhile. This one was no exception. The twenty minutes or so of gliding along deserted roads, with a breeze behind me and the only sounds being those of birds and the steady whirr of rubber on tarmac, was exactly what I needed. A nice 31km round-trip to start my day, then home for fresh coffee and breakfast.