MyWindsock shows my 6th windiest ride of all time…

With all of the surrounding stuff that has been going on in my world I have approached the 2023 cycling season with an unusual style.

After years of structure and planned training, my current commitments mean I am reverting to riding when I can at the intensity I want.

This won’t send the local club 10 timekeeper to the opticians when he stops his watch as I cross the line (“James did what time?!!!!“) but it will help get me beyond posting some of the challenging pieces about my dysfunctional relationship with the sport that have increased in volume during and post pandemic.

After not fancying the rain on Saturday and running 5k instead, I was determined to beat the 11.2mps wind on Sunday and just got on with it.

I clipped in to the pedals on the Ridley and trundled out of town into the teeth of the wind coming from the south-west.

Its about a 6km trek between villages which has very little hedge cover.

Fortunately for my legs and morale there is a right turn along the river bank with a rutted single carriageway road.

It broke the headwind a bit and also gave me time to ride down the sort of road that has grass growing down the middle and moss in the potholes. For a northern classics fan it felt a bit Roubaixish

Despite the gusting gale I promised myself I would not get stressed about cadence and speed and just knuckle down and enjoy it.

I crossed the main local ‘A’ road on a footbridge before a stiff cross wind into the village of Helpston.

This is a well known spot with most like bike racing and club runs either starting or finishing here.

Going anti-clockwise to the race routes I climbed up through the cover of trees onto the heath before heading back into the wind all the way to Castor.

The descent into the cobbled streets here was sketchy thanks to a buffeting gust or two that hit my right collar bone and send me towards the left gutter.

It was the sort of morning that any open gap in the hedging for a farm gate had to be approached with caution.

The good news about the direction of wind travel was that the climb back out of Castor was tail wind and despite winter bike, winter wheels and treaded tyres I managed to pull the bars tight and get up it out of the saddle.

I didn’t trouble the Strava KOM though.

As I headed back towards Helpston via Marholm I was left with the choice of cutting back towards the railway crossing and home… or.

Head back into the cold, icy wind towards the A47 road before cutting back to Barnack.

I took the second option and tacked along the twisty road to the most southerly point before getting a bit of wind assistance back towards the “Hills and Holes”. If you are not local, google it !

There was some relief as I climbed out onto Stamford Road and followed the line of the railway track back into Helpston and re-traced my steps to the foot bridge back into Glinton.

Once there it was a cross wind home. I just imagined I was in the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem!

So I might have only just managed 54km in the 2 hours (and 3 minutes) I was out, but it felt great to get up this morning and feel the tired legs. They feel like souvenirs of a morning in the gusty wind.

Roll on spring, for sure… but if I can get a few more rides in like this over the coming weeks the 2023 season might not be lost on me.

My day of hell on Flanders Sunday…

I thought I would be different and breeze through my Covid vaccination without any interruption to my Easter weekend plans.

The reality was quite different and for those of you still to get the jab it might be worth remembering.

Saturday morning was normal with rugby training before heading to get my injection at 2pm.

As I had walked and not driven I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. The process was very effiicient.

For the remainder of the day I felt absolutely fine with no side effects or symptoms that the leaflet accompanying the Astra Zeneca jab suggested might be present.

Even Sunday morning I felt great and with it being the Ronde I wanted to head out for an hour or so before the action got going in Belgium.

There was definitely a feeling of some power lacking in my legs before I’d even reached the end of the street so I took note and agreed with myself to stay out a minimal amount of time.

This plan was working solidly until I realised I was about 13 miles from home (or anywhere) with a headwind to battle.

It was there that my arms and legs suddenly became super heavy and I literally couldn’t get out of the saddle to either increase or maintain speed.

Those last miles were among the worst I have ever spent on a bike. Mountains, snow, wind, cold, heat, cobbles… all of it. This was up there with it and it was on a reasonably smooth A road in the Lincolnshire fens.

I was travelling from the top of the map down into a south-westerly and you can see the impact in terms of speed from the Mywindsock report.

The blue is above average speed, reds below.

I spent the afternoon shifting between asleep and just about awake on the sofa before going to bed at 6pm.

I watched the last 70km of The Ronde on my laptop Monday morning.

It wasn’t the Belgian beer swilling, burger munching afternoon I had anticipated, but there is a bigger picture here and now that the side effects are gone the thought of being Covid protected means much more to me than one Sunday afternoon in front of the TV.

Stay safe.

Tough day in Tier 4

Windy, flat and cold… it was a ride of 2 halves!

Having been consigned to the garage and the turbo for most of the festive period I took advantage of being in a single tier Covid area and headed out yesterday.

It’s very unusual to have any sort of northerly wind in this part of the world, even in the winter months. When they do arrive however, they are icy and strong with gusts that go through even the most costly of cycle clothing.

I set out at first light getting out of town before going alongside the A15 on the cycle way. It was like tacking out into the wind (as the chart above shows!) before the long straight through Tongue End to Pode Hole.

At this point I could see a sheet of some sort of precipiation coming across the fields to my left and as I made the most northerly point of my ride, it started to sleet.

I felt confident that once I got through Spalding and headed back down the farm tracks I would be able to outrun it.

Nice early season confidence!

As I cut onto Cradge bank to head for home the cold eased slightly and the back wind was most welcome.

I even got a Strava PB for the first stretch of the track !

The cold returned when I got close to the river bank and it was a real relief to get sight of home and head onto the cycle path back into the Deepings. There were a few big spots of something falling from the clouds for the last mile but I led a charmed life and avoided the biggest showers.

As usual at this time of year, it took almost as long to clean my bike as ride it, but I was happy to get a coffee and get “Wout” all shiny and sparkly.

Not the longest or hardest ride I will ever do, but it was nice to get 2021 off and running out on the roads.

Enjoying a break…

It’s been pretty hard work riding a bike recently. 

I suppose if there is a good time of year to suffer from a lack of motivation and have mechanical issues, November would be about the right time to have it. 

I am still riding my bike. Battling the cold dark mornings a couple of times a week to trudge to the garage and whirr on the turbo. 

At weekends, I am putting on my layers and turning on the lights to get the single speed out and around the fens. It feels like hard work as the days are only getting shorter and the weather colder. 

I can talk all I like about the Fendrien cycling culture and about how we ride in the cold and the damp. But at the end of every summer there is a period where I wish it was still warm and I wish it wasn’t so hard to get out of the door and on to the bike. 

…soon be the shortest day I suppose….


Its been a really long and arduous winter period for me with single speeding being the order of the day and lots of rain and wind. 

I am not sure, but I wonder if a bit more frost and stillness would be have been a better option. 

This weekend however saw my latest block of training coming to a close. 

I wanted to test out how this top secret midweek regime had worked and 60km alone yesterday was my method. 

I wanted to take a steady start and ride myself in and tagged along with a lovely lady on a Specialized heading north. We chatted and it was brilliant to ride with someone who was simply out there for the pleasure of it and not looking to hit some numbers. 

We parted and I hit the hills. 

Now I read a lot of stuff by the pros and they quite often talk about sensations when training. I have never been good enough to feel such phenomena. This weekend was the closest and the pain and stiffness from a batch of intervals gave way to the whirring and purring of a single cog and chainring. 

Will I be better come the racing season? Who knows. But that isn’t really the point here. The point is that I have trained hard, followed a process and the perception is that I am riding better. 

Time will tell.