Our normal weekly ride went ahead as planned last night and, I'll make no bones about it, it bloody hurt. Not just because we started the ride with the temperature hovering at around -5 and pointing downwards either.
Pulling into the carpark there were already 6 other riders shivering around their bikes. Getting kitted up as quickly as possible I soon noticed that I only had one glove. Amongst the typical (and only to be expected howls of derision given the unwritten rules of the group) Al bravely offered to lend me his spare set. Gladly accepting I got my helmet out of the back of the Landy and found my second glove nestled in the straps; cue more howls of derision.
We set off as quickly as possible and, before a few hundred metres had been covered, our first problem manifested itself.. Rex's glasses fell apart, a few cold, foot stamping minutes for the group and we were on our way again.
The fire tracks were covered in a few inches of snow and the going was tough, the forest seemed transformed into a new and unrelenting world of lung freezing air and ice rink trails.
It became quickly obvious to me during my efforts to keep up with the quick moving group that time off the bike has really affected my legs, where I was previously powering up hills at the front, I was reduced to bringing up the rear with no answer to an unrelenting pace.
The temperature soon affected our bikes, first victims were our camelbaks, attempted drinks of water resulted only in the scrunch of ice. Brake fluid thickened, mechs stubbornly refused to shift and gear cables stuck in their hoses.
Approaching the last singletrack of the night we dipped close to a local pub. Brightly decorated trees lined the carpark perimeter and warm light spilled through the windows into our separated world of ice and snow. A wistful final glance and we turned back into the Forest for a blast down Dr Johns.
A couple of hours after leaving the carpark we were back, hurriedly loading kit and bikes into cars and heading to our respective homes for warm showers.
It occured to me during the ride that fitness is a fickle thing, whereas a month ago I had biking legs and lungs, a few weeks off the bike and on the roads has seen my fitness shift towards running. I guess that's what makes triathletes impressively fit, they are constantly stretching themselves in different ways and, to compensate they become rounded and adaptable athletes. This is the start though, my first season of competition is still months away and I have a winter of preparation between then and now.
I'm aware that the weather has become a national talking point of late (lets be honest, when is not a talking point in the UK?) but I thought I'd share this with you, a comment passed by a very straight talking mate..
"It's not the BIG FREEZE, it's not the new ICE AGE FROM HELL or any other bollocks that our lying, brainwashing media try to make everyone panic with. It's WINTER. Thats right, that simple WINTER. That being the same, simple, straightforward winter that has happened since the last ice age, every year for approximately 2,000,000 fucking years. Probably just time to get your big girl pants on and deal with it."