I think I’ve mentioned in the past that the correct configuration for a papershop run is headwind out, tailwind home. I may also have mentioned that the new house is up a fairly serious hill, into the prevailing wind, which has been proving somewhat strong of late. Today that all came together with a wild blustery wind – and I have to admit I set off for the paper with a certain sense of trepidation.
The nearest papershop is now on the outskirts of Bigtown, and the ride home is in four sections, more or less. There’s the first, rolling stretch along the river, the same road I used to ride home to our old house. Then you turn right and start to head upwards, and if you look over to your left (if you feel like depressing yourself), you can see up above you the farm on the hill that is just before the turn to our house. Then you join the B road for a mile and a half or so of steady climbing, while hoping that the cars coming up behind you remember that bikes, while not as wide as cars, still have some width and squeeeezing past when there’s a car coming down the other way is not appreciated. Finally there’s the turnoff, down a little slope through a wood, and the last few hundred yards which just go straight up. None of this is helped by the fact that my front chain ring has become bent and the emits a loud creak at every pedal stroke as it clatters through the front derailleur.
I’ve done the ride often enough to know that although the climb back always seems daunting in my head, once on the road it is never as tough as I think it is (except for the last 100 yards up to the house, which is always a killer). But as I sailed down today I could feel the wind hard at my back and I was beginning to seriously wonder whether I’d make it back up again at all. Still, I didn’t really have an alternative and we needed milk, so I continued on, getting down to the shop in record time. Then it was just a question of getting on my bike and heading home…
On the first, fairly flat, stretch of road, full into the wind, I was alarmed to discover that I was quickly running out of gears on the slight climbs. As I turned onto the cross section, I didn’t dare look up to see how far I had to go but just put my head down and creaked on. Then left onto the B-road, the wind pouncing on me as I rounded each bend, holding my place in the middle of the lane so I didn’t have to deal with the wind AND an overtaking idiot at the same time. On we climbed, me and my creaky bike, wondering when the gust of wind would come that would bring me to a standstill and force me to a stop. And somehow it never did. I passed the house that’s so low beside the road only its chimneys appear over the hedge. And then the farm that stands before our turnoff, and finally reached our turning itself, still pedalling. Even the last climb – though slow – was never slow enough that I had ground to a halt. I arrived in triumph, sweaty but unbowed. I had faced the full on headwind and I had won.
And remembered I had forgotten to get milk.