This last weekend gave me the opportunity to have a couple of cycle rides and once again cycling in January is turning out to be unexpectedly nice!
- The Lilley Bottom Lane, which is straight towards crossing over the A505 at Beech Hill on the map is a nice gentle incline, almost as if you don’t realise you’re climbing. There were quite a few other cyclists heading towards me. Mostly fellow MAMILS and all cheery except one who was snooty and “in the zone” (please can someone explain why some become so snooty?). Trouble is, I still have the pannier rack on the back of my bike, so I probably don’t have the look of a “proper” sporty cyclist. Nevertheless a nice start in some fair weather.
- There is a down hill high blast towards the Barton Road at Hexton. This must be one of the local hill climbs as there are always a few cyclists hauling themselves up. This time it was a bit of a scary close shave for me. Scary? Why? The ingredients here are:
- Heading downhill I was doing around 30mph
- The road was wet and a rough broken surface on the left
- A car was coming up the hill (one of those older blue Vauxhaul Corsas, I think)
- Other cyclists were heading up the hill
- At the same time the car, other cyclists and myself all passed each other – that was too close! As I could see this scenario was possible, so I was braking pretty hard and the back wheel was on the edge of skidding, causing me to wobble around a bit. We all passed each other at exactly the same time, without a word and all in one piece, thankfully. A note to the driver – yes you – the driver of the blue Vauxhall Corsa: please take more care in judging the speed of cyclists and remember to only over take if it is safe to do so! Take a look at the Highway Code!
- From Hexton to the funny sounding Higham Gobian which was flooded once again, about the same as last time. Again I had to push the pedals quite hard in order to keep going as the water was so deep. This time, however I made sure I didn’t stray off to the rough roadside! Once again such good fun!
- A nice undulating if unremarkable ride over to the edge of Hitchin and then to the climb up to Preston. This is a really nice climb and not too steep considering it’s a Category 4 hill on Strava. My current ranking is 198 out of 475 and I’m pretty confident in improving this further (especially once I recognise the start and end points!). In some ways this hill climb is the high light of the whole ride. It starts fairly gently and become steeper in the wooded areas and passing some farm buildings. Ordinarily this would be a fantastic hill to ride down but the surface is rough and there’s lots of gravel, mud etc around
- The last few miles were spent riding up and down around the lanes around Breachwood Green, Whitwell etc. I know this lanes fairly well. The purpose was to use up some time before heading back into Luton. I enjoyed the ups and downs and doubled back on myself a couple of times for the fun of it!
Already the weather seems a distant memory. Looking out of the window after lunch, the weather was fine. By the time I’d got ready it was raining and within a few minutes of setting off rain was lashing down. Riding into the rain it was stinging against my face, people looked sorry for me as they drove past in their nice warm, dry cars. Didn’t matter, I was loving’ it! I was feeling SO ALIVE! Amazingly after 5 miles the sun was shining and there was some blue sky. Really fantastic weather, cold, constantly changing, invigorating!
That’s the thing about this cycling in January lark. It’s meant to be horrible with sub zero non-cycling weather. Instead I’m enjoying myself! The serious side to this is keeping some level of fitness maintained through the winter as a springboard for March onwards. I am trying not to be too worried about falling behind the 150 mile training plan too much as I have some confidence I can catch up and perform well on the day.
Last year I entered a marathon, fell behind with my running training before catching a dose of ‘flu. This knocked me out for two weeks and this meant I was seriously behind. By the time I was starting to run gently, my legs felt like jelly and I was a month from the race day. Questions of “shall I pull out?” started to crop up. To cut a long story short I ran a Personal Best time . So can I pull off the 150 mile Coast to Coast event? Time will tell and it’s great fun trying!