At the beginning of 2014 I set out a number of goals: the first one normally that I fail is the “cycle 100 miles per month” in conjunction with Phill Connell’s #12×100. Whilst the month started well, the final week I am struck with a man flu. This combined with a wet and windy week in the UK meant that cycling was not high on the list. Hoping that one or both would improve I am sure that I will fit in the last 13 miles in before the end of January to hit the 100 mile goal. Friday comes. Kids in bed and despite the wind howling outside the weather forecast is for the rain to ease. Surely I can get those miles in.
I open the back door and stick my head out. The trees are bending with the strength of the wind. Dark, still the tail end of the rush hour, rain still falling. This is not a good time to ride. My head debates between wine and cycling. Wine or cycling. Hmm. Mrs Nut agrees it’s silly. “Do it tomorrow”. She doesn’t appreciate: that’s not how Phill’s 12×100 works. Miles cycled after midnight are February miles. I have to do this now. I start heading towards the wine rack then change my mind again. It can’t be that bad can it?
Fifteen minutes later and I’m protected from the wind and rain by four layers of clothing, buff, cycling cap, helmet, winter gloves, overshoes and heading off through the estate. It’s not that bad. I head off to the west side of town before heading down the hill to Totternhoe. And that’s where the trouble started. As I leave the end of Dunstable’s bricks and mortar and between open farm fields the wind from the left hit’s me. I’m blown 3 feet to the right before leaning back into the wind and taking control. I have off some speed and bring things under control and continue leaning into the wind, and playing a balancing game as gusts of wind come and go.
It eases as I change direction into the wind, and the relative safety of Eaton Bray. Out of the other side the wind is behind and helping me along. The roads are unlit, and the rain-soaked tarmac hides both puddles and potholes as my light tries to light up the path ahead. A BMW with those new fangled headlights comes my way and despite not being on full beam the lights are still bright enough to hit the water droplets on my glasses and send patterns of light dancing across my vision making the road ahead even less easy to follow.
I head through Stanbridge and on to Tilsworth. I know that there’s a stretch of road that was flooded last year, and was surprised to see that it was not as bad as expected. Two bends later and away for the village lights and the puddle I enter gets deeper and deeper until the overshoes have become bathing shoes. Can’t stop now: if I do my wet feet will become wetter and I keep cycling hoping that it’s not going to get any deeper.
Beyond Tilsworth and back on the A5. 10 miles done – heading back to Dunstable and home should clear the 13 miles needed. Back in town and despite a loop around the shared space it looks like I am going to be a mile short. So a short detour back into town and through the estates ensures that enough miles are logged. 100 miles in a wet and windy January. Job done. Goal achieved. Thanks Phill. I hate you (but not in that way).
Should you want to join Phill’s 12×100 just use the sign-up form on http://www.phillconnell.com/blog/monthly-cycling-challenge/ and Phill will send you an invite and put your name on the sheet.