Sunday, 17 July 2011

Man for all Seasons

I'm a seasonal creature.  I love the spring and early summer, and loathe late autumn and winter.  It's partly to do with that sense of renewal and growth in the spring, and decay and decline in the winter, but it's also to do with the more tangibles, namely heat and light - it's the lack of daylight and bone-penetrating chills I find particularly depressing in the winter.  And I think that helps explain the routine I seem to be dropping into over the course of a year - cycling in the warmer parts of the year, and running during the winter.  And so it's been this in the last few days - two road rides on Thursday night and Sunday morning, only a couple of hours both times, but I couldn't wait to get out there.  This morning, that meant getting up soon after 6 as the rain was forecast to start here soon after 9.

Thursday night's ride was a cracker - it was warm (short-sleeved jersey, no gilet), and I decided to hit the hills.  I only covered 25 miles, but it felt like they were all vertical, either up or down.  The climbs to Flash (the highest village in England rather unfeasibly, being in the Staffordshire Moorlands), and Gun Hill (which features as a Category 1 climb most years on the Tour of Britain) were particularly enjoyable, and between the two of them I set a new record for my top speed on a bike - 52 mph.  That was at the site of where the previous record was set - the A53 between Buxton and Leek - and I thought that a warm summer's night was a good opportunity to improve my record - less rolling resistance in the tyres, and so it turned out.  Still think I can squeeze a few more mph out yet though, just need to get a bit braver.  It would be exaggerating to say that the climb out of Wincle (crazy name, crazy place) felt easy, but after the other two it felt pretty straightforward, and didn't need bottom gear.  Which was nice.

This morning's ride was completely different in character - mainly flat.  After watching a lot of yesterday's stage of the TdF, with its 6 categorised climbs, I was inspired to go and do a stupidly hard session on the turbo trainer, the effects of which were still in my legs this morning.  There comes a time when one has to say goodbye to the peaks and hello to the plains, and today was that time.  I have a standard loop through Gawsworth, Marton, Twemlow, Goostrey, Siddington, Lower Withington, Bosley (not necessarily in that order), and I did it in reverse today just for novelty's sake.  It was good, though the proliferation of (live) rabbits on the road (and avoiding them) made the ride feel a Playstation game at times.  Not that I've ever played a Playstation game, but it was how I imagine them to be.  Everyone out there seemed really cheerful today - horseriders, dogwalkers, other cyclists, their greetings to a man and woman all seemed genuine.  I put it down to the feeling of exclusivity - at 7 am on a Sunday it feels like there's just a few of you in the world, rather than the seething hordes we usually share it with.

Anyway, to return to where I started, it was lovely to be out on two wheels today, and the ride took me across a canal towpath along which I did much of my marathon training.  It didn't look very appealing today, though no doubt it will again come December when it's frosty or rainy, and certainly cold, and I can't face putting my backside on a saddle.  That said, I'm going to do another duathlon at the start of October, so I'm going to have slip some running into my exercise week soon.  I think I might have said that last week, and any time soon it's really going to happen. Ironically, it's now running weather outside - pouring with rain and cool; the weather forecast was right, and I'm delighted I was up, out and back early.

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