One gear. Two wheels. Three hours. Infinite satisfaction

Southerndown wall (1 of 1)

I needed to ride.

Desperately. On all sorts of levels.

Firstly, I’m off to Belgium. The small matter of Paris-Roubaix. You can’t tackle a spring classic with only a winter cross season under your belt. Secondly, South Wales was bathed in fresh coastal sunshine – a spring both long in the making and longed for. Thirdly sometimes, just sometimes, you just need to ride as hard as you can muster.

Take out the roadbike?
No. A puncture, overstretched chain and zip, diddley, squat in the way of brake pads.

Take out the crosser?
No. Rolled the front wheel and watched it stop and go into reverse. A hub full of sand I suspect.

Take out the MTB?
No. Need a rest from mud.

Single speed it is.
I headed for the vale with its lazy undulations and occasional sharp climbs.

At St Fagans, a tree full of Jackdaws stared down my approach.
At Pendoylan the fields provided a canvas for the wind, grass billowing in tufts.
At Colwinston a huge cloud battered hail-stones in my face.
At Llandow I turned away from the circuit, leaving my teammates to race crits.

The speed to the West was ponderous, awkward, progress stalling in the face of a stiff headwind.

At Corntown I shot down the hill, the promise of the sea faintly on the breeze.
At Ogmore, I climbed to the cliff top and watched the sea dancing across choppy waves, muddy sediment churned by storms, turning blues into browns.
At Southerndown a misty haze battered the Jurassic coast.
At St Brides Major, the wind turned in my favour. No longer a bitter rival, now a welcome ally.

The speed to Aberthaw was rapid, fast,  progress aided by gusts from the West.

At Barry I was running low on energy, running out of steam.
At Wenvoe I dropped someone drafting behind me, never working in front.
At Culverhouse Cross I smiled with satisfaction.

At Whitchurch I flopped on the sofa. Hugged my tea. Sank in a bath.

Three and a half hours of hard single speed riding were under my belt, but better than that – a much more elemental satisfaction. To be riding through the hills and along the coastline, in wild and glorious spring conditions, reminds you what it is to feel alive.

Top image: Lichen clings to an old stone wall on the Southerndown cliffs. 

2 replies »

  1. Fab diary of your journey, being a local i can see the twists, turns and hills, I can appreciate the speed and distance and only marvel at your single gear. I read, then sat back smiled sipped my coffee and thought ‘I wish’ ‘If only’

    • Very kind Loz. The single speed as a choice of bike is a bit daft really, but does have the advantage of making things very simple and allowing you to get on with it. I did appreciate that tailwind on return!

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