A decision last night led to me and Verity (@v_girlracer on twitter) having a winter ride today.
After chatting to a couple of people, I decided I need to get out on the bike. I’m absolutely useless at sitting indoors, however I’m great a finding something else to do. I actually think I’d lost my confidence a bit.
It was chilly this morning, but a beautiful winters day. Ideal to layer up and head vaguely toward Wantage (well Costa had a coffee *waiting* for us!).
A quick check of the bike, pump the tyres back up (yes I can do this) and away I go down Fawler hill. The road surface is terrible and I’m a bit cautious because of ice, but the hill is fine.
As soon as I’m at the bottom, I find my riding style has changed. I’m not happy whacking it round in a big gear like usual, I actually find myself happier spinning the pedals a lot quicker in an easier gear. I don’t bother over thinking this, I do what feels good instead. Although I do tank up the road to Uffington to try and warm up a bit!
I collect Verity and we head off back the way I’ve come from. This means up the short snappy 10% Fawler hill. I get a bit more pessimistic than normal as we hit the bottom, but just go at it. Halfway and I’m blowing, but I’m still spinning up there, then out of the saddle for the last bit… and I’ve done it. Despite the weight I’ve put on. I ease down, and do a couple of circles to wait for Verity, and we head off. I’m pretty gobsmacked actually!
I had a vague plan of my route (the route is on MapMyRide) but had to make sure Verity was ok with it.
We head toward Wantage, detouring via Sparsholt and Childrey, before heading up Childrey Holloway and hanging a left at the crossroads. I again do this a lot easier than before.
Up on the exposed road we have a class view of the Vale of the White Horse slightly behind us, and Oxfordshire in front of us. Apart from my legs feeling a little numb with cold, I’m ok. And rather pleased with myself.
A nice long downhill into Wantage, avoiding the potholes and shouting morning to the other cyclists, and then up past King Alfreds Center Site and up to the traffic lights. Straight across and out through Charlton towards Didcot. We go via West Lockinge, where I rode out for Henrietta Knight in her best years, then back up a short climb and across the miraculously clear A417 towards Lains Barn. It’s a lovely long swooping downhill on rather a good road surface, and it’s on the flat at the bottom that Verity admits to feeling the cold in her fingers and toes.
Luckily my fat keeps me warm! Lol, its more likely my striking Ana Nichoola winter gloves and merino Castelli socks. And my 6 layers.
We carry on out to A338 and come back past the Williams F1 site. I’m still spinning in a lower gear and really enjoying it. I’ve no idea how far we’ve gone and I really don’t care. I have one near miss on this bit of road, a black BMW at the traffic lights. But the bus driver gives us loads of room as he passes, so I grin and thank him. We head straight for Costa, only to find that the Arbery Arcade had closed the passage off to the back of the shop, where we could’ve sat down. So I stay with the bikes out the front, whilst Verity grabs up coffee. I’m conscious that my knees sometimes stiffen up in the cold, so I keep stretching them and earn some very strange looks. Not that I care!
Eventually we head back up to the crossroads and right towards home. We now have the longest most continuous hill on our ride. But we’ve both ridden it before, and it does have a couple of flatish sections. I’m confident enough to get out of the saddle and sprint onto the top, then wait for Verity. A nice long downhill to Childrey crossroads and then up to the second avenue and down the other side. It’s the tiny hill after this that nearly has me, I cringe up the last few meters blowing like a train. Thankful I can stop to wait for my friend!
It’s an easy ride to home then, and I suggest Verity might want to look at some thermal bib tights.
So I’ve gained in confidence from this. Knowing I can actually get to the top of Fawler hill has lightened my outlook on getting out there more often.
So thank you to that one person who really did put me to shame by suggesting I do have afternoon hours (2 max) that I can get out in. I knew I did. But putting something like this into practice when you don’t feel good about yourself isn’t easy.
I now have to find something to do on Monday and Friday evenings. That or start my own club (that idea is from the legend Jo Tindley last year).
So, want to ride on the downs around here with me? Give me a shout.
Thanks for reading. I’m not apologising for my sense of humour!
Keep Smiling 🙂