Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The First Ride of Winter

With Jon on his holidays and Billy-Bob still nursing the new nipper it was left to Al and John to keep the flame burning on a night when both riders would probably have rather been huddled round a fire. Clear nights and northerly winds had seen the temperatures plummet in the last few days - the temperature would dip below 3 degrees centigrade before the night was out. Winter riding had arrived!

So, armed with thermal base layers, under helmet head wear, winter gloves, thick socks and long trousers, the pair set off on TCA favorite - Hambledon Route #1. Thankfully Al was in better form than the previous week and just about hung onto John's back wheel as he briskly made the ascent of Cams Hill.

While it was a cold night the still, dry conditions made the perfect riding environment and Al relished the first descent even more than usual. By the time he had followed the track and reached the road he had quick a lead on John. When he had caught up John complained that he was not feeling quite as confident as usual on the descent and wasn't firing on all cylinders. This became apparent - the tables were turned from the week before - as John lagged behind as Al raced ahead, glad to be back on form.

We were soon at the bar in the White Lion and ordered two pints of Bowman's Swift One. Parting with tradition (and perhaps common sense on such a cold evening) John suggested that we drink our beer outside rather than beside the raging fire in the bar. Anyone who has been cycling to the pub on a very cold night might be familiar with the discomfort one can experience for the first few minutes back in the saddle as physiology struggles to adapt to the new environment (which is possibly exacerbated by a pint of beer). John's theory was that this might be eased if we did not acclimatise to room temperature before recommencing the ride.

The practice can confidently be consigned to the bike shed floor however - both riders still felt the nausea and shivering as they remounted and headed down the disused railway. Make the most of the fire if you see one!

It was not just the bikes that were
out in the cold tonight

Al once again shot off into the distance as John struggled to find his form. While the railway line was not the quagmire it sometimes can be the fallen leaves and mud certainly signaled the start of tougher riding conditions. Al wondered how many more successful first attempts he would make as he struggled to the top of the Railway Embankment Challenge. John made a token attempt before deciding to push on for the Forest of Bere.

Up and over as usual with no drama despite the heavily sanded section and the air were soon in the Traveler's Rest. Thinking on from their recent experience John and Al quickly took off their waterproofs and sat back in the warmth of the bar over another pint of Swift One.

Back out into the col and the usual nauseating feeling as they started for home. They eventually warmed up on the gradual ascent along the country lane back to Hambledon. There they were greeted by Beef in Old Thumper stew with mash and homemade bread and pints of Hobgoblin, the winter chills soon evaporated.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Al)

Labels: , , , ,


At 3:25 pm, November 02, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

I look forward to joining you on the next one.

At 5:18 am, November 07, 2008, Blogger simon said...

me too


Post a Comment

<< Home