Twighlight zone, October 2020

In the blink of an eye, the nights are drawing in and my toes are cold.

The old saying goes “if you keep doing the same things, expect the same results”. It makes sense and I think this year I am going to try and take note of this principle. I say try as I have no self-control and if the weather is nice, I will want to be out there.

However, what I need to do is back off now as we head into Autumn, do some cross training (read weights), and get a plan together for lifting the efforts in the New Year. I might actually do something other than cycling….did I just say that out loud?

The problem with putting a plan together, you assume that next year we will be able to plan trips and then execute on them, unlike this year.

The first weekend was a real soggy one. I managed to get out Saturday for a coffee with Simon, to celebrate his (biggish) birthday coming up on Monday. We hit one of the few cafés we know that has indoor seating, as we were wetter than an otter’s pocket by the time we got there.

Sunday we weren’t so lucky as the club always goes back to the same café, convenient as it is 500m from my house but, as we sat in the drizzle, soaked to the skin, the coffee didn’t taste as good, but it felt well deserved. The ride itself took us through several severely flooded roads, which I don’t ever remember seeing in this state before. I think it was just the capacity of the field drains, ditches and small rivers that couldn’t cope.

I got a call towards the end of last week from a contact, Sam who is looking at putting together a gravel sportive in this area next year and wanted some route planning and marketing help.

So, on Monday I dodged the rain and took a trip out to a café where we know we could sit inside for a coffee and catchup, OS Map in my bag and ideas a plenty. This looks like a great project and I really look forward to getting stuck in over winter, finalising a route and building a brand.

Happy days.

The weather suddenly seems to have gone from Summer where you could sit in the garden, to Autumn and out come the warmer clothes and even the heating goes on in an evening. I got a couple of hard two-hour rides midweek, in the dry, but I was well wrapped up, which gave me a taste for the coming months, no stopping for photos and lower average speeds, despite working hard. It doesn’t take much to knock the edge of the speed.

The forecast for the weekend was good halfway through the week, so we agreed to one final blast on the summer bikes. When Saturday came it was cold but dry, for the first part of the ride, and time spent chasing each other round a 70km loop soon warmed us up.

The final ride on the summer bike before it got put away for the winter was a beautiful, cold but clear, club run on Sunday morning. However, heavy rain on Saturday evening had left the roads soaked and covered in mud and filth, so a deep clean was required before it went back in its box.

Monday morning and the infection rate has increased with a reported 12,000 new cases recorded on Sunday 11th, which brought further restrictions by region, depending on infection level. The Nightingale Hospitals in the north have also been reopened to cope with both Covid and Non-Covid cases. These are all things we were warned about as we head into the moister conditions of winter. It is difficult to know where we go from here as further lockdowns are going to prove so damaging to the country.

We must keep positive.

After the meeting last Monday we agreed a 50km and 100km route, so Sam and I decided to do the 50km northern loop from the café where we had met last time.

It was a tough old ride, with easily 50% being off-road and the ground was heavy from the previous few days rain. With the ride out to, and back from the café, plus the 50km loop, my total distance was 95km and 1250m of climbing.

We were so lucky with the weather. I started in a winter jacket, but it was bungeed to the bars by the time I had eaten late lunch and was heading home. It seems odd to be even thinking about organising events under the current circumstances, but hopefully the world will be in a better place by then.

Well, we have got as far as the third weekend in the month and we are still able to ride together, so we had a hard, for me anyway, ride on Saturday, then sat shivering outside a cafe to socially distance. I’m not sure how much of that I can do through winter, I need the warmup in a cafe to get the feeling back in my hands and toes.

Sunday was another club run where we all huddled in groups of six in various locations around the town square to meet the “rule of six”, then we do our own 70km route back to the cafe, only to sit outside again. There were around six groups that left the square this week, but only Lee and I stopped for a brew after the ride. People were not prepared to queue in the cold for their food and drinks, then sit out in the cold to consume them. It’s going to be a long winter.

A nice steady ride in the pale sunshine soaking up the colours of autumn was just what I needed Monday lunchtime, but when I got home I was greeted by the news that Wales was now going back into lockdown for two weeks. I am sure it won’t be long before we follow in England.

Well, we got to another weekend and we can still mix with people, within reason, so I had a nice catch up with the group who used do the Saturday cafe rides with me. That was followed by a glorious sunny Sunday club ride, the first ride after the clocks changed.

Heading into the final week of the month and the weather looks a bit dodgy, but I will make the best of what it has to offer.

Monday the 26th, and it was a special persons third birthday and to help feed his passion for two wheels I assembled his present and hopefully we will get plenty of chance over the coming months to get some rides in.

He has been asking for a bike with pedals for ages, but his last bike was a balance bike without brakes, which he flew about on. With pedals and brakes to get his head around, I think we could be in for some fun.

We have reached the end of October and headline news this morning was an indication that we are probably going back into lockdown, country wide. It’s going to be much more difficult for people this time round, what with winter weather, therefore housebound and the threat of not being able to see family until the New Year.

We are expecting that group rides will probably come to an end, so made the best of it this morning, despite torrential rain and the forecast of 70kph winds. It was soggy and the journey back into the wind was a challenge, and one section of road just prior to the café stop was like riding through a ploughed field thanks to the farm vehicles. As you can see, despite the weather and uncertain future, spirits were high.

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