OK, so its my birthday tomorrow, thought I ought to get in 1 last ride before I'm a "whole year" older. Being struggling with a sore neck for a few days so was going out with the mentality of not doing anything too strenuous; and as it will be my 20th birthday U thought 20 miles would be a good place to start.
But, once I got on the bike it became apparent that taking it easy wasn't an option! I was pushing hard from the start, only a couple of miles in I started to feel pretty rubbish and by the 5 mile mark I nearly turned round and went home but I carried on. Then it started raining, just a bit drizzly but I soldiered on through the wind and rain - just trying to think about why I like cycling.
39 minutes later I reached my destination, 10.4 miles from home. Not a great TT time, but not bad, and having surprised myself with that I thought I should try and beat it on my back home again. I spent 10 or 15 minutes off the bike before heading back. Started out quite fast, keeping my eye on the speedometer. Then I hit the hills, they worked much more in my favour on the way out as it was short, sharp climbs followed by reasonably long descents, obviously on the way back this was reversed - so plenty of long draggy climbs (NB: I don't do hills, these are probably nothing to most road riders but definitely enough of a hill for me to know about it!). But I kept plowing onwards. And the the rain started, not just drizzle this time, that would have almost been a pleasant cooling experience. Nope, this was a full on apocalyptic torrential downpour! I was soaking wet, and struggling to see where I was going, every time a car went past I got attacked by spray (not that it mattered because I couldn't get any wetter!). I started the climb up into one of the villages and the amount of water pouring down the road was almost enough that I could have used a boat! The rain stopped and I carried on, still constantly checking my speed and the time. Half a mile from home and the sun came out, just for a minute, but it seemed to dry my jersey a little bit (no difference to my very wet shoes though, every time I tried to really put the down I was just squeezing water out of the sole!). The end of the ride is a nice downhill followed by a climb, and then into the village. I made sure to push hard on the way down to give me the momentum to get back up. Time to get home: 35 minutes.
Pretty happy with that, although means I need to work harder to get a sub 30 minutes 10 miler! Came straight in and had a long hot soak in the bath to warm me back up again.
So why do I like cycling? I'm not going to say that that was the best ride I've ever had, nor that I enjoyed getting drenched but I got some very strange looks from pedestrians in one of the villages. I'm soaking wet, my legs are feeling the pain after the hill, I know I'm only half way home and yet the expression on my face still had a hint of a smile. There's just something satisfying about riding a bike; I may not be fast enough to be the one winning all the races, but cycling, even to just an average person is full of achievements - a new top speed, conquering *that* hill or just getting out and finishing a ride.
So everybody go and ride your bikes!
Not a very good picture (the iphone 3g camera doesn't seem to like anything less than perfect weather conditions!), but I like to take a least 1 photo when I get out on my bike...
And just to illustrate the point about smiling...