So far this winter we have been quite fortunate with the weather in a cycling context, especially at the precious weekends. It has not been too cold, too wet or too anything else to stop riding.
However, it IS dark at 7 a.m, and this Saturday night saw a sharp frost which made the weekly kit preparation ritual just a little less attractive than normal. Where are my clear glasses? Who’s moved my overshoes? What did I do with my fast twitch muscles etc. etc? Maybe I’m in subconscious hibernation AND my eyesight is failing.
Anyway, you just know that you’ll feel better once on the bike. And if you have as fine a group of cycling characters to meet up with as we have in the Muswell Hill Peloton, well that just adds to the expectant pleasure. And so thirteen of us showed up at our regular meeting place as the sun began to rise behind Ally Pally.
A joint decision, in the interest of safety, was made to avoid the familiar, but potentially icy roads of Hertfordshire and head to town for some laps of Regents Park anti-clockwise circuit. On arriving at the Park, Pete called a sudden meeting to determine our ride strategy. Keep turning left for ninety minutes or so and we will alternate in taking 10 second turns on the front. Haha, after Mikey and I had dragged the guys round for 2 whole laps, Saul injected some real pace into the proceedings and our group gradually began to shed riders. (This is OK at Regents). The menu was 1 steady lap followed by 5 at ‘threshold’, 1 steady, then 5 more at ‘threshold’.
Nobody explained which threshold.
What was marvellous was the sight of so many other cyclists diligently lapping the park in the cold sunshine, hundreds of them. We managed our dozen laps at a furious pace for January. ‘Twas a blessing when the lights occasionally changed to red. Gave us a chance to catch our joint breaths and let our heart rates subside back to a normal level. We attracted a fair few followers to our grupetto by dint of punching a hole in the light breeze to maximise the slipstreaming effect.
All the while, legs turning and burning, hearts beating fast, watching the wheel in front, listening to the buzz of carbon wheels all around, the click of a gearchange, then turn into the glare of the sun at 40 km ph and hang on for the last minute of the lap. Do a turn on the front and feel the extra effort. Will the body to dig a little deeper and then pray simultaneously for a few seconds of recovery AND not to get dropped, to stay with the group, your cycling mates. Worship the tarmac, the bike, the group and feel the energy coursing through your being.