Sunday, 14 April 2013

Boom! - at last, its getting warmer....

Suddenly there is some hope, at last a hint of warmth, brighter skies, a hint of sunlight... I've notice buds on the trees in the garden, and nascent growth in the borders. My alliums are making good progress and there is even a flower head or two on my snakes-head fratilleries - it's about time and most welcome.

This week I've managed to get out on the bike three times - and whilst that total is nowhere near what I was riding a year ago, it does at least represent some progress. The light evenings have afforded the opportunity of a quick blast after work and on Wednesday night I set of with a spring in the pedals at some pace. Everything felt good - the bike was beautifully efficient and silently smooth, my speed was high, I pressed on the pedals with a ferocious desire to make progress. I was surprised at how well I was moving. I decided to keep going as fast as possible - I needed to get back before darkness arrived and that spur focussed my efforts. After 10 miles I checked my average speed - 19.2mph, excellent. However I suddenly found myself struggling to breath properly - the lingereing after effects of a particularly nasty cold had begun to take a toll. My nose felt blocked and my lungs were burning. The last 5 miles were much slower and by the time I reached home my average had plummeted to a more typical 15.9mph.

I went out again on Friday evening prior to 'boys night' at the pub - same circuit but much slower, nevertheless another 15 miles in the bank. On Saturday I decided a longer ride would be in order and set off with the sun shining and a blustery breeze. I had made some minor adjustments to my saddle and was keen to see what difference I might feel. The warm morning quickly resulted in a clammy sweat and I wondered whether I might have too may layers? - As I passed through Newton Burgoland and on to Snarestone I was joined by a cyclist who initially shot past me but then slowed to allow me to catch up. It turned out he was from the next village to mine, although I could tell from his accent he was a Brummy by birth. We chatted for a few miles before he peeled off towards Market Bosworth while I turned right and headed to Twycross.

I passed along a quiet lane, half in and half out of the slanting sunlight, past a drift of stone cottages fringed by a narrow stream. The road pushed up a steep hill, narrow between two grassy banks and passing woods that looked like they had been recently thinned.. The sky had turned inky now, dark and threatening, It looked like rain was due but thankfully it never happened. I noticed something on the roadside and I stopped to examine it. An old gnarled, weather-beaten post and alongside it an information board. It provided me a few minutes distraction as I read the story of one John Massey, a farm labourer who, in 1801 had murdered his wife by throwing her into the mill stream - her daughter, his step-daughter suffered the same but survived the ordeal and gave evidence against him. He was hanged in Leicester and, as was the tradition, his body transported back to the parish where the crime was committed and chained to the gibbet post. His remains were hanging there for 17 years!

Onwards through to the A444 and down to the Upton turn, then through Shenton and Far Coton, back up to Market Bosworth and then home - 28 miles in all. It feels like there has been a change now - and I'm looking forward to building up the miles, fitness and stamina - still plenty of time before London to Paris so no need to panic - I need a month of steady riding and gradual increases before attempting a few longer all-day rides.

The gibbet post

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