For today’s cycle ride I decided to go alone and have a gentle ride. Quite a breezy day, mostly dry and neither too hot or too cold: about right and not bad for early November. An enjoyable ride, fairly quiet roads, no punctures or other breakdowns. Well, when I say no breakdowns, that is quite true but only by the skin of my teeth as you’ll see below.
The first highlight was being approached by a couple of cyclists (see above photo) as I was lining up a Trek bar, hoping to get some kind of arty photograph. Turned out to be a father and son; they were very friendly. They asked if I had a 6mm allen key as one of their saddles had become loose. Regrettably I didn’t. If they needed a 4 or 5mm that would have been okay. We had a chat, where we were heading, where we’d been etc as cyclists / walkers / runners often do.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to offer them a Nakd and Trek energy bar, its nice to share things with like-minded people. The roadside feedback included “mmmmm this ain’t bad” as we stood there munching and chatting.
Off we went in our separate ways. I headed up towards Hexton and then across to Hitchin via Wibbly Wobbly Lane. That’s a nice name but appears to have been updated into Carter’s Lane. Now I don’t know the story behind this, nor do I have anything against anyone by the name of Carter but I think Wibbly Wobbly Lane has my vote! Someday I’ll see if I can find the story behind this interesting name.
Next for me was a little climbing, heading from Hitchin to Preston and on that steep climb I broke one of my own golden rules in gear selection and nearly broke the chain as well! It is a reminder for me against using the large chainring and large sprocket combination – it twists the chain too much. Apart from increasing chain wear and sounding horrible, it puts an undue strain on the magic chain link. as you can see. I was fortunate, somehow the chain managed to stay together by the skin of its teeth; I only realised what had happened when I got back. These chain links are not costly and there should always been room for one of these in a repair kit, surely?
As far as the climb was concerned, I enjoyed it. I like these short climbs that can be approached at a fair pace – this is my version of interval training. This is where the heart beat becomes raised, probably to the maximum it should. For me I don’t this does me any harm as I’m in reasonable shape already through plenty of running but balanced against that I’m in my 50s and I don’t want to keel over, not yet anyway. The hill climb itself was in lovely countryside and about 1:6 at the steepest point, just past Offleyholes Farm. The brick built farm buildings looked interesting with some curved walls. At the top was Sootfield Farm and the short, but muddy, road to Preston where I was on more familiar ground. My cardiovascular system is fine; what I need to build up are my”cycling muscles” through the winter.
I love the quiet little country lanes in the Whitwell, Preston area and never hurry my way through these. I enjoy the undulating hills and smile at those pheasants that run along the road clucking away. This is a reminder that there is more to cycling than hard Coast to Coast training and all the technicalities – it is there for us all to enjoy being out there cycling.