Sunshine after the rain

When you work from a home office it is all too easy to spend the entire day sat in the same chair.  Reading emails, writing emails, telephone conference calls, reviewing documents, hosting webcasts, researching and troubleshooting.  Sometimes you just have to get up and get out.  Today was one of those days – I decided on having a proper lunch break; so I took my bicycle and rode to Great Ayton for some coffee and a slice of carrot cake.

This journal focuses on long distance or other memorable cycling events and I don’t bombard the internet with stories of cycling to the shops (3km), to church (1.5km), to the pub (5km).  I keep quiet about the lone Saturday morning blasts of 30km to 70km where I’m just “keeping fit”.  I ride as often as I can, sometimes all I can achieve is a 5km loop around the town after work.  But all this cycling mounts up, keeps me fit and healthy, helps me maintain balance and strength.  It is the little and often approach which I think would help anyone stay fitter and healthier, but I know that not everyone has the time, the bicycle or the freedom.  So I’m grateful that my family allow me to prioritise some time alone riding my bike.
Today is a bit different.  It has been raining all night and most of the roads are flooded, but the sun is out and there is a glittery feel to the air.  The sun, low in the sky, is dazzling and also being reflected from the shiny black tarmac.  It is windy too.  As I ride out for lunch I am buffeted by a side wind and then swept along as the road turns.  Cycling up Seamer hill is dead easy at about 28kph with a strong following wind.
Why am I writing up this non-event of a bicycle trip?  I felt that I wanted to balance out some of the seriously tough cycling stories I’ve shared with a more down to earth experience.  An experience which is more day-to-day than those where I’m striving for a cloth badge by riding through the night.

Great Ayton is a picturesque example of a sleepy North Yorkshire village.  I think if you are reading this overseas and imaging what Great Britain is like, you’d want to come and visit a place which looked like Great Ayton.  It is a super place from which to base a walking holiday in the moors; tea rooms, small shops, general stores, pubs and good food as well as B&B facilities.
I stop at Cafe Number 5 for my lunch and in this photograph you can see why I’ve been gaining weight over the autumn months.  I have a slice of carrot cake instead of soup.  Soup is healthier but the carrot cake calls from the counter.  I have a smoothie too.  A homemade smoothie from local autumn fruit, picked at Pinchinthorpe Hall not far from here.  There is an obligatory coffee; black and without sugar.

Sharing the cafe with me are a mix of elderly people meeting to chat and drink tea.  There is a “CTC Welcome” sign on the door, and to confirm this there are Touring Cyclists meeting at the back of the tearoom.  They too are enjoying the excellent facilities.
It doesn’t take long to eat carrot cake and drink a coffee, and the stop was really just for a bite to eat.  The main purpose of this ride is to stretch my legs over lunchtime, have some thinking space, pray a little, get some fresh air; so out I ride again, retracing my steps to get home.  The river in Great Ayton is gorged with water from last night’s heavy rain and the small waterfalls are swollen into gushing waves.  I push my bicycle over one small footbridge to get a photograph.

Today’s journey out and back was not the hilliest of rides, basically over Seamer hill and back.  You can see this from the elevation profile.  The windy conditions made it interesting though and keeping the bike upright with a gusty side wind was my main challenge.  I decided to attack into the wind and rode harder on the way home.

So in conclusion:  for the rest of 2012 I shall be mostly riding my bicycle around a bit.  This journal might be a little quieter for a while.  At least until something dramatic happens with the weather.  However, even if there is not much going on here in writing, I shall be out on my bicycle as often as work and family permit, enjoying the sunshine, the showers, the frost and the wind.  Enjoying struggling up hills and rolling down them.  It is good to ride a bicycle.

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