Early spring in the UK is, as any cyclist will tell you, a tricky time.
All it takes is a couple of days riding with warm sunshine on your back, and suddenly you have a spring in your step (or a flourish in your pedal stroke…or whatever) and you relax and allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense that the cold weather is over (I’m sure the French probably have a very specific word for this very specific time of year).
Long rides in short sleeves are surely imminent.
Except they aren’t, of course, because spring-time in the UK means that your next ride is just as likely to feature freezing rain, hail and high winds, as sunshine and happy days. In this carefree state, blinded by the (minimal amount of) sun, it’s easy to let your guard down and under-dress for a cold day, for the simple reason that you’ve had enough of wrapping up like Scott of the Antarctic every time you head out for a ride, and you’re desperate to dress like, and feel like, a cyclist again.
It’s fair to say that the way I got kitted out for my ride last Sunday morning flew in the face of a slightly ominous weather forecast.
My 9am start with @NaplesOfLeNorth was, judging by the forecast, starting to look like one of those grit-your-teeth-and-get-out-on-the-bike mornings; the weather forecasters seemed suspiciously non-committal, hedging their bets by predicting all four seasons in no particular order.
‘To hell with the weather’, I thought, ‘I’ve had enough of long winter tights and windproof thermal jackets’, and so I went out clearly under-dressed for a chilly northerly wind and the threat of showers, only to find that the doom-mongers at the met-office had got it wrong. The end result was three glorious hours of cycling heaven in weak, but very definitely warm, sunshine (and not a speck of rain).
In reality, of course, the temperature was only nudging double figures Celsius, and so after a couple of hours a coffee and cake stop was very much in order…which was where the Wolfhouse Kitchen came in (@wolfhousewolf).
Tucked away deep in coastal Lancashire, we are talking artisan coffee, a dozen varieties of top notch cake (ranging from healthy to down-right disgraceful), a wood burner in the corner putting out enough heat to make steam rise from a sweaty cyclist, and a gentle hum of Sunday conversation.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of settling down in a good café mid-ride, and topping up on decent coffee while the cake goes to work on your legs. In fact, the cake is so good in this place that even my mate @NaplesOfLeNorth was tucking into a slice apparently guilt free, and to hell with his usual monastic restraint when it comes to counting calories (although, I expect he punished himself with an hour on the turbo trainer later that evening).
The only problem with a place like this is the effort required to peel yourself away after half an hour, and hit the road again. Luckily, the sunshine was still doing its thing and drew us back to our bikes before deep apathy set in.
And the final payoff at the end of this little belter of a ride? Thanks to a spot of spring sunshine my complexion has officially graduated from ‘deathly winter pallour’ to a ‘merest hint of colour’.
Well, the cyclist’s tan has got to start somewhere.