Well I’ve made a start. I did have to fight myself a little, seeing as the weather yesterday was pretty nasty – cold, wet, windy, dark. My car seemed awfully tempting. I haven’t used it much over Christmas, maybe I need to check it still works ok? Maybe if I take my car I’ll reinforce the joys of riding a bike? Nope, no good. I just had to go by bike.
So I cycled round to my fiancé’s (it may take some time to get used to that word) which is a distance of about 2.7 miles, with the last mile being mostly uphill. As I pulled out of my drive it did occur to me “well, 1,000 miles to go I suppose.” Getting there wasn’t so bad, although I don’t think I’ve been eating enough lately and I did feel the strain a bit at times. “Golly, you’re brave coming here on your bike” was how I was greeted, but it didn’t feel that brave. It wasn’t actually raining as I went, although the height of the river, and the splashes on my trousers, showed just how much rain we’ve been having lately.
On the way back was where I really felt it, it was just miserable. That lovely long downhill stretch that I always look forward to freewheeling down as I’m riding it uphill was no easy task with a strong headwind. I had to pedal all the way just to keep moving forward, but at least the roads were empty. Really empty! I saw only about four cars – moving ones anyway – on the whole journey, and one nice sight on the ride was when I got to the railway bridge just as the last London train of the night was leaving. Then a Jaguar XK was stopped at the lights while I crossed over, pulling off after with that lovely supercharger noise.
I still haven’t found a satisfactory solution to the problem of riding in the rain wearing glasses. Strictly speaking I don’t need to wear them as only one of my eyes is short-sighted, but there’s still the problem of what happens if I get something in my good eye. There’s contact lenses, but they bring a whole extra load of problems and I just never bothered to put them in when I used to use them. I could wear a monocle I suppose*…
I do wear a baseball cap (last night I wore my actual baseball cap, a Cleveland Indians fitted number) and this keeps off big vertical rain pretty well, but does nothing for the light floaty drizzle we had last night. It’s not too bad at night with no traffic, but during the day I can start to have a real problem seeing where I’m going and what’s around me.
Yeah, it was a tough ride and that headwind just kept following me around. I was glad I did it though as it was a bit of a statement of intent. 5.4 miles chalked up, despite the weather.
Today was a little easier, no significant rain but still a bit of wind. I rode into town along the river, which was only about a foot (or less) below the level of the path in places. Pretty straightforward for me now, I can easily make the trip in under 15 minutes and when you factor in traffic lights, finding a space, parking and buying a ticket I get to the cafe in pretty much the same time as I would by car. There were notably fewer cyclists today, my bike being the only one in the stands.
Afterwards I popped into Halfords to see if there was anything I wanted to spend my Christmas gift voucher on. I looked at a new chain, and some gloves, but didn’t buy anything. I rode along to Sainsbury’s to buy some pens (I’m very particular about pens and Sainsbury’s seem to be the only ones who stock the type I like) as it’s a natural stop off before joining the Isabel trail.
I got down the trail ok, though in parts it was rather wet and I nearly came off the bike in some mud at one point. It was a bit bumpier than I remember it being. There were a few runners about and one oblivious dog walker who got right in my way. Riding back along Beaconside I noticed I’ve got so much better at climbing hills, and despite another slight headwind I made decent time. I am a bit worn out now, feeling it in my legs as I go up stairs.
This task is a little more daunting than I thought, and I do wonder if it’s not just agonisingly out of reach. Since I got the computer on my bike I’ve averaged a little under 2.5 miles a day, which isn’t quite enough, and it covers a period where I’ve had more holiday than usual, my bike’s been working fine and the weather’s been rideable if a little imperfect. Sooner or later I’ll have a problem that will set me back, so I need to give myself some room by slightly overachieving to begin with.
*it did cross my mind to try a pair of glasses with one lens taken out, that way I’ve got one eye unobstructed by rain, and I don’t look totally daft. Merely quite daft.