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.