Chesham – Hemel Hempstead – Berkhamsted – Chesham. 14.6 miles
This afternoon’s ride was a mission. It started off pleasantly enough – if you can call White Hill pleasant when you’re carrying an extra three stones of lard – with some lovely sunshine. Being tucked up nicely in the Chess valley, I’d utterly failed to realise that the wind was blowing at about a million billion miles per hour. I should’ve spotted the tell-tale signs, as the wonderfully colourful clouds turned the view above from the brilliant blue to a frighteningly dark shade of violet and back again, making a mess of the sky with speeds that Rolf Harris in his prime would’ve been proud. Did I notice? Did I chuffers!
The rather steep, and far from rapid ascent of White Hill took me out of the valley, and into a headwind that hairdryer manufacturers only dream about. In my dulled brain, for I did a night shift last night, and had slept badly to boot, I thought that I had no legs again, which I put down to the aforementioned night shift and figured I’d suffer. That whole “no pain, no gain” malarky, again.
The evil wind, which seemed to have amassed the power of my dad’s farts, fortunately without the smell, continued. It didn’t really know what it was doing either (perhaps the wind is a Milton Keynes shopper), since it was utterly convinced that I wanted to be hit in the face with it, regardless of my direction of travel. Eventually, as the appallingly-surfaced road led into Berkhamsted, I remembered something I’d read many years ago about pro riders training in Belgium and Holland, where they do lots of training in low gears and at high cadence. It didn’t make the ride any more pleasurable, but at least I felt like I might get something out of it.
Fortunately, there was some relief. Eventually. The rise out of Berkhamsted, up the Kings Road, has until now been one of those roads that I’m not keen on – a long drawn-out drag of a hill, where the gradient isn’t all that steep. Over the last few weeks, I’ve ridden it quite a few times and, partly as it’s come towards the end of the rides and partly because I don’t like it all that much, I’ve virtually dragged myself to the top, and been less that quiet about the relief that the top brings. Today was different. As I climbed with a steady cadence of around 90-95rpm, I felt like a Tour rider in the mountains. No longer was my ever-hazing vision fixed firmly on the slowly-rotating cranks, as I ground out my way to the top, and an end to the suffering. I happily rode up the hill, enjoying the rather pretty trees, with the sunshine beaming through them, savouring the new sights as I rounded every bend in the road.
I’m still knackered though.
Todays bike: Pinarello Paris with full 9-speed Ultegra and Mavic Open Pros