7th Nov 2016
Another 120 miles racked up this week, 40 of which were in the protected environment of the Shed of Sweat and Pain, the relative luxury of which I never really appreciated until cycling in what at times felt like very arctic conditions today. A low pressure system sitting off the north east coast of the UK was throwing some very wintery conditions over the South East all weekend so it was with some trepidation I ventured out today, wearing pretty much every item of cycling clothing that had any thermal properties I own.
It was a bit of a landmark ride as it was the first group ride I'd tagged along on and the first time I'd ridden with Gary, my London Revolution partner in crime. We have a local informal cycling group that are formed around a Facebook group and thought if I committed to tagging along on one of the social rides it would mean I was more likely to venture out in the cold, rather than just remain under the duvet until spring. The social rides are just that, just riding a half decent distance but without all the attention to speed, time or trying to form a peloton of some kind, and with a stop around midway for refreshment.
So it was after battling some pretty brutal north winds, which chilled the already cool air to 'what am I doing?' temperatures, we were sat on the veranda of the Tiptree Jam Factory tea room eating, what for me was, second breakfast. I'm not sure if we were sitting outside as some sort of initiation, defiance of the conditions or to keep an eye on the bikes. Whatever the reason, it was bloody cold. Next time I'll take a bike lock and show my defiance by appreciating the effort that has gone into perfecting 'indoors'. Still, I'm a team player and enjoyed the company and refreshments regardless of climate.
A freak relationship exits between wind and cycling, no matter how much of a headwind you battle through, you never seem to benefit the equal force when riding in a reciprocal direction. Today was no different, it didn't seem to matter what direction we headed the wind never seemed to be at our back. Where we did benefit was the route seemed to trend downhill on the way back, although the elevation profile does suggest different. The added speed of the downhill sections and the temperature made it clear I need to get some knee warmers. My leggings don't offer a lot of wind stopping and I became aware that the metal work of my left leg was chilling my tibia from the inside. Unpleasant. Both knees suffered a bit today so it's something that needs addressing before I do any sort of distance away from the SoSaP again, now that it is clear winter is upon us.
All in all it was a good ride, good experience and although I enjoy riding solo it does offer another option and will probably come into it's own motivation wise. It also had the added plus of riding with Gary but with both of us adapting to others pace rather than each other. This is probably more relevant to me as all other things being equal, Gary is generally quicker than me. Didn't stop me pushing hard over the last mile to get to our finish point first though. Something that was far easier to achieve when he was stuck behind the car that was effectively stuck behind me.