It is currently 6.03 a.m. and I am fuelling up on Espresso and Fruit Loops. Surely the breakfast of champions. The adjustment for Daylight Savings has given us that extra hour in the evening, but it has also resulted in us being plunged back into darkness for an additional hour in the morning. Even with super bright LED lights, I’m not moving for another thirty minutes at least. No problem. Time for another coffee.
I am virtually riding the route to work in my head as I sit here staring out in the blackness. I’ve ridden it so many times before, and I feel like I know every single bump and crack in the asphalt, but I know that winter will have brought on fresh craters the size of small cars that can easily cripple your progress. In fact, Andy last night sent me and Paul an email simply titled “First Casualty”. Sure enough, he had planted his front wheel squarely into a pot hole that would not have looked out of place in the Australian outback and not only blew his tyre but even buckled his wheel. The only piece of good news in this story, aside from the fact that no serious injury was incurred, is that he was within flamme rouge distance from home, so less than a kilometre to go.
Alright, we’re back home and it is now the end of the day. Apparently there are a few more cracks and bumps to learn now that Ma Winter’s effects are being revealed. Also a good third of the bike path is not navigable as yet, but the roads are clear of all ice and snow. Not, however, of wetness. This is what happens when the thaw comes and you have many thousands of tons of snow melting all at once. The ground underneath becomes saturated and there is no where for it to go but sideways, desperate to find another way down into the depths of the earth. This results in streams, and I do mean streams, of water that suddenly appear as if out of thin air and flood the road from left to right. With no where to go but straight, you simply have to plough through it and accept the fact that your pristine and shiny 2011 Kona Paddywagon is going to get dirty. Very dirty as it turned out. By the time I arrived at the Campus the bike, and me, were looking slightly the worse for wear, but with the magic that is a rear mud guard my bottom was completely dry. How’s that for a miracle? I have never ridden in the wet and come out of it with a dry arse. It felt magnificent. Wet feet, yes. Wet legs, yes. Dry bum!
The ride down had been pleasantly supported with a light tail wind. I knew that this was likely to mean a tougher return journey, but I had no idea what was in store for me. Sitting at my desk around 2.00 p.m. I was startled by a creaking sound. Seeing as I was in a massive building that was no more than three years old, I knew this was not the floor boards. No, it was the windows straining as the hurricane of a wind that was blowing outside was buffeting into them. I checked my trusty Weather Network and it confirmed to me the following: Winds 50km/h West, Gusts 65km/h.
Oh joy. This was going to be a doozy. And so it proved to be. A headwind of that magnitude is debilitating at the best of times, but when you don’t have the luxury of jumping down into the ‘Granny gear’ ‘cos no-one’s looking, it becomes a trial of mind over matter. You have to will your legs to keep turning and at the same time try and get past the frustration of feeling as if you’re getting no where. The headwind is one thing, but when one of those 65km/h gusts comes at you from the side, you’d better be ready for it. Try adding the streamlining effect (insert heavy sarcasm here) of a 30lb back pack and you’ve got yourself a sail on your shoulders, making it even more challenging to resist the power of the wind. On the plus side, it was mainly dry. Well, except for those rogue streams that had not dried up yet, and judging by the amount of snow still clinging on, it’ll be some time before we experience a truly dry ride.
Ride safe everyone. Watch out for those pot holes. They’ll get ya!