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.