Any one who has been unlucky enough to have seen me in the past 2 weeks will have had to put up with a lot of moaning... I have had a cold ... yes a bad one... no not the female version of man flu... today was the first day in almost 2 weeks I have felt well enough to contemplate making my shiny new bike dirty.
My shiny new bike has been sitting folorn in my porch... especially with the dramatic improvement in the weather and frankly I havent had the motivation to get out there. Route 66 left me with a bit of a bike hangover... one which fortunately is starting to lift with new dreams and plans. I have discovered recently about myself that unless I have a plan on the go... something to aim for... I can be prone to swing into laziness and tv and sofa calls louder than the wind wistling past me.
All that is sorted now because I have officially announced ... basically shared on facebook... my intentions to cycle north to south new zealand for LHS.
And so cold finally abating... I prepared my kit and swung my legs over clipping into my slightly new pedal system and began to pedal (slightly tentatively) towards the main road.
As I think I have said before.. every bike has a different feel to it and can take some getting used to. But right away I liked the way this one handled... I was expecting a slightly skittish ride but at every turn it felt like I could trust it.. solid but lighter. The drawback... I could feel every bump in the road... round here there are a few.. and the vibration were easily felt through my gloves.
The goal of todays ride was to go where the wind took me... turn down roads if I liked the look of them.. stop if I saw a nice view... but ultimately get some miles in to my slightly atrophied leg muscles. Therefore I found myself negotiating quiet country lanes... familiar in their location but with an unfamiliar feel from the back of this bike.
More wary of potholes and gaining a puncture as havent got a spare inner tube to fit this bike yet.. so a puncture would seriously put a dent in this wonderful day.
At points I went down on the drops and could feel the superior power transfer and subsequent acceleration. The new pedals are slightly different than I have had previously.. being a halfway house between road and mtb cleat fittings. Made for road touring they provide greater stability for the foot by reducing side to side movement.
I found myself. . Ten miles in to the ride at silchester... a favourite spot of mine. There is a little known roman ampitheatre nestled in the countryside. A quiet spot where it is easy to imagine it how it was centuries before. I didnt linger long however as was impatient to get more miles under my belt... even if they were easy ones... no wind and sunshine. Continuing on I slipped into my own headspace... a state of being that I had become so familiar with during october and have missed somewhat since I got back from the USA. Barely noticing the miles as they clocked up.. the countryside was green and the sounds and smells that are linked with being out in the fresh air once again flooded my senses.
At one point I found myself on a duel carriageway but this minor interruption to the peace and tranquility was only temporary and was the exception rather than the rule today.
My general lack of fitness started to show around mile 28 where the legs complained a little at a reasonably steep rise... but I had to remind myself that I was climbing these hills in a bigger gear than usual.. due to the lightweight frame beneath me. Despite this by mile 30 I was once again feeling good. My legs had come back to me and with that familiar feel of sudden energy surge (for no particular reason - other than having broken through the barrier) the pedals turned faster and smoothly and I was once again whizzing along the road.
Any bike ride wouldnt be complete without the usual emergency pheasant dodging manoeuvre. . And there was one hold my breath moment when a car squeezed me into a huge pothole and I emerged slightly jarred and concerned for my tyres... but the bike held together without incident and I continued with the reassuring feel of solid tyres.
About 3 miles from home... the legs died a little bit... but considering exercise of the biking kind has been notably absent from my life lately.. its no wonder the muscles were complaining. That said I was pleased with the 40 mile total and the bike.
I have however been put to shame this weekend by my good friend mickey who braved wind and rain to complete another 60 mile training ride in preparation for his lands end to john o groats ride in suupport of LHS. chapeau mickey! Details of his page can be found on my Route 66 facebook page and would appreciate you checking out his page and supporting him in his adventures!
It was a good day... one of many more to come. The smile and the bounce are back!