2018 is fast approaching and in just a few days it will be the start of another year. It is often used as a catalyst for many people to start something new, change something in their lives, shed unwanted stuff, start a new exercise schedule. I generally eschew such 'new beginnings' arguing that you dont have to wait until a new year to begin again. As someone who has thrown out a life and started again from scratch a couple of times I know that change doesnt have to happen at the beginning of a year with a resolution.
So instead I am hoping to end the year with a kick start to the new. And that opportunity was provided in the form of an old friend. Jamie had decided to end his year with participation in a 500k challenge, braving the wind rain and cold over a week to complete the prescribed distance. When he messaged me asking if I would like to join in for a days ride, I jumped at the chance. Yes, it would have to ne done at the end of a night shift... but isnt that how my life often rolls?
Deciding to introduce Jamie to the ups and downs of The Downs, I went on Ride With GPS and traced a route for upload to my Garmin Etrex 30x without thought for elevation profiles. I ended up with a 43 mile route around the area I now live. The only bit I knew was the hill called White Hill which I remembered from a ride many years ago.
Weather... well hasnt it been 'interesting' over the last few months. The morning was no different. As I glanced out of the window at the end of my shift, the rain and wind were battering the glass. Whose idea was this?
Fortunately by the time I arrived home the rain had subsided though it was still pretty cold. Jamie arrived and with freshly pumped tyres and oil on my chain we set off and in a few minutes were out in the country, amidst the fields, exposed to the wind. Rain was still falling though not with the ferocity that it had earlier.
My main worry was keeping up with Jamie as my legs were unpracticed over the last few months and he had clearly been powering through the last few days.
The hills did not disappoint... hitting my legs with force from the outset. They loomed ahead on the road filling me with dread anticipation... but I did as I always do... slip into a low gear and tap my way up....
Uphill is often followed by downhill and the wind whistling past me filled me with delight and heightened the senses to avoid the inevitable potholes and the littany of sticks and muck than had been scattered on the road from all the bad weather.
White Hill... was as bad as I remembered in it... but oh what a view from the top... stretching out across the downs. To the right a bridleway.. filled with promise for another day and a fatter wheeled bike. Occasionally a familiar road popped across our path as I was reminded of other rides... other lost lanes. Through the small villages that littered the route and past houses that I can only dream of... the legs kept turning... defying the sloth of the last few months.
20 miles came and went and the legs felt ok... a wrong turning and a different 'path' than the planned one introducing Jamie to The Search for the Pink Alpine Elephant. A dead end and another detour led to more hills... if it doesnt go up... its not the right way!
A short stop at a pub for a coffee... ignoring the stares of well-heeled residents at the lycra and mud splattered faces... they dont realise what they are missing...
The circle continues and the wind has brought down the ambient temperature. Numb toes sit in wet socks... still pushing down on the pedals... the road still climbing up and down dale ... testing muscles not recently tested.
The Gate photo... a must on a ride...
Rule #5 discussed and adhered to...
More familiar roads... and 1 final detour... 43 miles done and legs that feel it.
Kick start !