I think I can count on three fingers how many Christmas Day rides I’ve done in my life. Today’s ride was special not for the route or distance but the significance of the day. Its about 30 years, (yes 30 bloody years!) since I did my first one! Thats a sobering thought which is somewhat ironic given the time of year.
So, Sally had to work today. Short shift this afternoon into early evening which gave me a reason to plan a ride out. I like to keep things simple so I came up with a 60km, 2hrish route out to Alcester, round the back of Redditch and home. Easy. A bit lumpy and laney but nothing overly hard or technical.
Breakfast done. We smashed a couple of sausage n egg sarnies and coffee early doors which I washed down with a cuppa tea. We killed an hour Youtubing some toons on the telly and then it was time to get ready and go. It was frosty first thing but by 11am it was warming up, I just had to keep an eye on the shady spots in the lanes just in case.
I was out at 11.40am and off up through Burcot. First climb, first test of legs and they felt great. The power of red wine from last night fueling them well. The roads were quiet which was nice and great to see most cars full to the brim with people being ferried about. I caught the first cyclist having their xmas day ride too. It was only when I’d zoomed past I realised I might know them. Green Cube bike, balaclava, could only be my old mate and customer from the shop John.
If you’re reading this John, I’m sorry I didn’t recognise you until I was up the road.
Into the lanes now at Tardebigge and they were mucky which set the tone for the day. Lots of standing water, debris and muck all over them. As expected I didn’t see anyone until I skirted Webheath and dropped back into even dirtier lanes running with water like rivers in places.
I saw loads of couples and families walking today in the lanes. Why do they only do it at Xmas? Its great to see.
The first real climb was up into Astwood Bank, a nasty little drag thats just that bit longer and steeper than it looks. I churned my bike over the top and turned right to ride along the Ridgeway. Busiest part of the ride with people walking and cars. It quietened down as I took a left and dropped down to Alcester and rode through the not-so-pretty Arden Industrial Estate to get back out onto the Great Alne road. Back in the open countryside again. I love this road that snakes all the way towards Wootton Wawen. Its not easy, it drags, the road surface changes and its narrow in places but I just like the views.
I turned off in Little Alne for Shelfield. A grippy bit of road this, just hard work. Right to Wawensmoor and I was faced with a road-wide puddle/flood. A quick gauge of it against the verge I estimated 6 inches max so went for it. Turns out it was about an inch deep. Amazing how a dirty bit of water can look so deep.
More dirty lanes caked my bike well until I got out onto the A4189 Henley Road briefly. I was an hour in. Xmas lunchtime. The road was dead. Loved it. Half a mile later I turned and quickly passed through Ullenhall before I did battle with Fordhall Lane, the scene of so much carnage on the old Cult Racing rides. So many times I’ve popped up that climb but not today! I was determined to do the whole ride on the big ring so I just sat down and churned a gear up and over the top. Steepest road of the day done! More shitty lanes made sure I was going to have to clean the bike before the weekend. Over a quiet A435 and not long before I crossed the M42 too. Eerily quiet for a motorway.
90 mins in and my legs were complaining a bit now. Up Watery lane which has deteriorated into a horrible bumpy mess. I enjoyed the fast, no brakes descent of Weatheroak Hill before a good blast into Alvechurch passing another cyclist. Through Alvechurch and Barnt Green there were lost of people out walking home from the pubs I think. Fiery Hill was the last climb of the day. I took it relatively easily and then give it some beans down the other side and home passing a closed Tesco Express which just looks weird!
63km, 2hrs+ done. Hot bath and a lounge on the sofa all afternoon beckons.
Merry Xmas peeps.