Having railed against the rain, it would be churlish not to celebrate the sun on the rare occasions it deigns to hover above these isles.
Wednesday saw early rain clouds scattered by what threatened to be a brutal headwind, but which, in those rarest of circumstances, proved to be behind me for most of the ride.
Equipped with the Cube Agree GTC, and, in a moment of unbridled optimism, having pulled on the Carrera R&B X-Lite sunglasses (not a moniker likely to have been inspired by visions of England in January), I headed out into the early-afternoon sunshine.
What a difference! While still far from warm, the sensation of riding beneath clear blue skies provided an added zest to my pedaling; one absent since the last time the sun showed its face over Blighty, last August.
The countryside is always energizing, and the force of nature soon transmitted to my pedals. An unexpected encounter with two deer running towards me along the centre of the road left us all startled. My closing speed left no time for a stand off, and they jumped clear of the road by hopping smartly over a low fence into a nearby field. (This latest encounter with the animal kingdom follows a ride briefly interrupted by a shepherd driving 60-odd sheep down a main road, and later finding myself amid horse and hounds paused for breath).
Empty roads are always a joy, and seem somehow clearer still on solo missions. My route on Wednesday was one I have ridden thousands of times and to which I had returned under pressure of time. I’ve recently discovered a new and easy access to still wilder parts of the county, courtesy of Tim O’Rourke, and with time at my disposal now leave town by a northerly route. It felt good, however, to be back on familiar roads and I felt better able to push on, secure in my familiarity with the effort required to get home.
Back on urban roads at rush hour and in darkness, discretion seemed the better part of valour, and I selected a series of back roads as my route home. Suburban side streets offer a challenge of their own, and an interesting network of tight corners and short, sharp slopes on which the crit racer might hone his skills, if he could only be sure of the absence of oncoming traffic.
Twice today, people have spoken to me of spring time. January is behind us, and while February is unlikely to bring any more favourable conditions, it is mercifully brief. It will be March a month from today and by then the end of winter will truly be in our sights.