Of Hill Circuits and Fresh Tarmac

Disaster, in the form of only one lolly in the freezer and two children wanting to eat it, was averted today with a quick scoot over to the local garage and a rummage in their chest freezer. A bit of a sprint but it wasn’t going to do for the day’s cycling by any stretch of the imagination. I had a bit of a sniffly cold and a headache, but careful ingestion of Lemsip was keeping the symptoms at bay (apart from a grumpy mood). After the sprogs had finally been dragged in from the garden, bathed, read to and put to bed I pulled the racer out of the workshop and changed into my cycling gear. As I wasn’t feeling so good I didn’t want to go too far, and in any case, I hadn’t had my tea yet (I didn’t want to suffer ‘the bonk’ any more than a couple of miles from home). As it happens there is a hill in the village which has two roads running parallel from base to crest. One of them is residential, the other skirts the outer edge of the houses and they are linked at the top and bottom, I thought it would make a nice circuit. It seemed sensible to cycle up the residential road and down the country road, they are both 30mph limits, but that way I wouldn’t have to cross any oncoming traffic as I would always be turning left. It’s a reasonable hill, not too steep, but fairly even, a sprint up it feels tiring by the time I reach the top and there’s just enough space on the downhill to hit 32mph before having to brake hard enough to make the left turn without ending up on the wrong side of the road. A left by the Green and a very tight turn back up the hill just where it starts to get steeper add a bit of interest.

I did five circuits before carrying on down the hill and out of the village into the dusk, along some freshly laid tarmac barely a few days old. For two weeks the route had been closed to traffic as work took place, the new road felt good to ride. With no traffic around I powered through the half-light sustaining 26mph for a mile or so before turning back. Where there had been wheel-eating potholes less than a fortnight before, there now lay a utopian cycling surface, gleaming, black and unworn. The day’s storms had left a rich, damp road-smell, heady and pleasing when mixed with the scent of rain-gorged roadside grass. Only the faintest hint of a breeze stirred the air and the warm-up on the hill had left my legs feeling strong. It seemed to me that my cold and headache had been left behind somewhere on the short ride, unable to keep up. Or perhaps the endomorphins that cycling creates in the body simply crowded the fledgling illness out sending it spinning to the kerbside. The only sounds were the squeals of swallows looping and diving over the corn, the swishing of the cranks, and the tyres humming contentedly as my bike carried me homeward.

Published in: on June 23, 2007 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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