Out Like a Lion

March 31, 2015

There was a moment or so last week when it started to feel as if spring had, if not arrived, was at least texting us to let us know that it was on its way. This week has proved that that was somewhat premature – the first clue being the fact that we woke to a smattering of snow yesterday, the second being the fact that the birds were flying backwards today, which is never a good sign when you’ve got a TOHH* journey ahead of you.

But, you know, I had yoga to go to, and an important literary plotting meeting to attend, followed by an hour of fantasy cycling-infrastructure shopping with someone in the council who can’t, sadly, actually implement any of my plans but is prepared to indulge me while I explain them, which amounts to a significant step forward in these parts. The journey into town was completed in record time, aided by a massive tailwind, and I did hope that the wind might drop before I had to head home, but I was disabused of that notion after filtering to the front of a queue of traffic at the lights, foolishly failing to change down a gear, and then discovering when I attempted to set off again that I was barely able to move into the wind. Fortunately, the drivers behind were extremely patient with me and hung back until there was space for them to safely pass, for which I was enormously grateful, given the cross winds which threatened to send me half way across the road at times.

As for the last few miles home, I can only say that was the longest 40 minutes of my life (time does funny things when you’re plugging into a headwind; I was convinced I’d been riding for at least an hour when I got home). I don’t think I’ve ever ridden into anything like it, particularly when it started snowing again. It didn’t help when a car suddenly appeared about a foot to my right, having come up behind me without my hearing a thing, and passed me on a narrow bend as if I simply wasn’t there, thereby undoing all the warm fuzzy goodwill I’d been feeling towards the drivers of Bigtown up to that point.

Fortunately, we have recently been extensively testing the proposition ‘it is not possible to have too much cake’** due to a backlog of over-ripe bananas, which obviously have to be turned into banana bread and/or Ruby Tandoh’s banana thyme cake, combined with a belated birthday present of more cake which arrived in the post yesterday (complete with candles, naturally, you’ve got to love my friends). So the other half was able to revive me with plenty of carbohydrate when I finally staggered in the door, looking as if I had been freshly sandblasted. The rest of the day has been spent firmly on the sofa, waiting for April…

*tailwind out, headwind home; HOTH is the correct configuration for cyclists.

** preliminary results suggest that it is both logically and practically true.

Puttzing about

March 16, 2015

What with all the gadding about I’ve been doing recently, it’s actually been a while since I simply cycled down to the shop for the paper, but today I got to do just that. And although it was a cold day and spitting lightly with rain, it was a relief to get back on the rolling back road to Papershop Village, with almost no other traffic but me and the bike. I was relieved to note that, despite using the bigger front ring, I found the hills pretty easy all the way there. Clearly, I thought to myself, I’d got a fair bit fitter over the last couple of weeks. All this gadding about must be doing me some good.

And then I turned around and discovered I was suffering from PUTS: previously unnoticed tailwind syndrome.

We’ve been here before…

Headwind out…

March 18, 2013

Cycling out to the papershop this morning, I wondered which was worse: sailing out all unknowing on a tailwind and only realising on your way back, or heading out in the full knowledge that you will have the biting east wind in your face every slow grinding mile of the way home.

And then I cycled out to Bigtown in the afternoon and on the way back I got my answer: worst of all is cycling out into a headwind and then coming back to discover that the wind has shifted north and is not at your back but coming at you crossways all the way home. For a headwind is a headwind is a headwind – it can come at you from almost 90 degrees on either side and still be in your face – but a tailwind is only a tailwind when it’s got it’s hand on your back and is pushing you home. And that almost never happens.

Still never mind all that, I bring you Important Ford News:

mended ford sign

Someone has fixed the sign! Although whether it was the council, or just someone who waded in to retrieve the broken off half of the depth gauge and mended it (looks like they cleaned it too) I don’t yet know. If so, my money would be on the postman, who has form on this matter


February 4, 2011

I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy my ride down to the papershop this morning. After last night’s gales, the day dawned – although ‘dawn’ is rather too strong a word for it – grey and wet and miserable. When I suggested that fetching the paper today might be a job for the rubber trousers, the other half intimated that it might actually be a job for the padded white van if I really insisted on going out in it, and the woman at the papershop agreed – ‘you never came on your bike in that did you?’. Even though it had actually stopped raining byt the time I stopped procrastinating and set off, it was still blowing a hooley out there and I had expected it to be one of those duty rides, the kind where you grit your teeth and concentrate on the benefits of cycling rather than its joys.

But here’s the thing. I might have been battling headwinds all the way out but I knew that meant a tailwind home, and so it proved. The minute I turned the corner coming back from the shop I was enveloped in a sudden calm as my speed matched the wind and I was sailing before it. Coming up the hills I could even feel it at my back, pressing me on (I was doing something similar for my four-year-old niece at the weekend). Coming down them, there was nothing in my head but ‘wheeeeee!’ and a vague unspoken hope that no car was lurking round the corner because I was flying and that doesn’t do much for the effectiveness of my brakes. Normally I try and aim for some sort of style over speed on the bike but seeing as I had my bad weather cycling gear on (everything-bar-the-apocalypse jacket, wellies, mismatched gloves to accommodated my bandaged finger) the style battle was long since lost and I just gave the bike its head and clung on as best I could and enjoyed the ride. Thank goodness for our empty roads.

So yeah, cycling in winter. It’s grim you know, but we do it for the good of the planet.


*Headwind Out, Tailwind Home, a sort of cycling equivalent of ‘posh’.