Personally, I blame the Daily Express for all these miles I’m doing. Every-time I glance at their newspaper headline (and other newspapers, they’re all the same to me), there is a suitably menacing headline along the lines of:
‘Arctic freeze on the way;. – 20 degrees Next Week!, ‘Coldest winter since the Thames froze in the seventeenth century; e.t.c.
Suitably worried by the upcoming apocalyptic arctic deep-freezes, I feel I’d better get a few more miles in before it really gets cold, and I have to spend the next two months cowering in the house doing the odd hour on the rollers.
The problem is that these Arctic-amagadenon weather fronts never seem to quite materialise. The odd frost in the morning, but it’s still relatively pleasant. Perhaps, it -20 degrees at the top of Ben Nevis,. But, at the risk of being pedantic, here in Oxford, it’s pretty typical December weather. Perhaps there will be an upcoming headlines along the lines of “Christmas very likely to occur quite soon.”
Anyway, yesterday, was a balmy 8 degrees, so I thought it was warm enough for a good long ride to Chipping Campden. This involved riding north on a lot of roads, I’ve never been on before. That’s the beauty of being based in Oxford; you can ride pretty much any 360 degree of direction. Even after 12 years of cycling around Oxford, I’m still finding roads I’ve never been on before. The downside, is that it’s easy to get lost. But, if you keep riding into the wind, at least, you know, it’ll be easier to retrace your steps.
The first three hours were hard going into a consistent north westerly wind. It was 50 miles to the beautiful village of Chipping Campbden before the long drag towards Broadway tower. On the top of the Broadway ridge, it was a good feeling – now it was downhill all the way to Oxford. Well, not quite downhill, but with a tailwind – it was going to be a lot easier.
The ride was fairly uneventful until Witney when I spotted a rider with Team Sky shorts riding at a fair lick in front of me. I picked up my speed to 27mph to catch him up. (and just check it wasn’t a lost Bradley Wiggins doing secret Oxfordshire miles, rather than the balmy training camp of Tenerife.) Whenever, I see a rider in Team Sky shorts I do, out of habit, check their bike to make sure it’s isn’t a team issue Pinarello.
Catching up the rider got me into a good rhythm. I said hello and steadily cycled past, wondering if he’d be interested in sharing a paceline back to Oxford. From Witney to Oxford, through Eynsham it’s pretty flat, so with a strong tailwind, it was great fun putting the hammer down – not racing, but comfortable hard and often averaging 25mph on the flat. After the long steady four hours at 16.5mph, it was a bit of a blast to go along at such a rate. I was surprised to find my legs so fresh after 80 odd miles. My Team Sky companion seemed very content to sit on my wheel all the way through Eynsham, Cumnor and Boars Hill. I didn’t mind at all. It was inspiring me to go faster than I would have done on my own, and I was really enjoying it. I wasn’t trying to drop him, just ride nice and fast. So it proved a great end to five hours in the saddle.
Total ride: 156km on the clock, 1,700 metres of climbing. Average speed 28.1 km/h
Week Ending Sat 8th December
Last week was fairly steady. The longest ride was 95km, but I still scraped through 400km, through going out on the bike 6 times in 7 days, including twice on rollers for a short time. But, it all adds up.
photo top: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maartenv33/