Saturday, 16 October 2010

Rise and climb

Sometimes coming off of nightshift isn't all bad, it can have it's perks. I finished yesterday morning around 07:00 AM and got home for a few hours kip before forcing myself to get up about midday...ish. That meant I ended up back in bed not long after 01:00 AM, after vegetating on the couch, and finding myself awake and staring at the ceiling at 06:00 AM this morning. Not wanting to wake Louise as I grew restless. I got up and decided to go for a spin on the bike seeing as the sun was on it's way upwards and the roads were quiet.

It was chilly out and I could see my breath hanging in the air as I went out the door, so arm and leg warmers were both deployed. Cycling up the gentle hill away from the flat I decided to tackle one of the two long and steep roads that rise up out of Hamilton onto the back roads to either Strathaven or East Kilbride. I've been wanting to "up" my mileage on the bike now that I'm starting to feel the positive effects of a regular cardio workout. I must admit though that either of the two possible routes out of town and into the country have been a little daunting for a beginner like me.

As I swooped off the first exit on the lonely roundabout I decided that as a hill walker my main strength is my ability to suffer for extended periods. "I'm no sprinter" I thought. "I won't get to the top in record time, but I'll bloody well get there eventually"...and with this positive thought in mind I set off for the longer of the two hills.

Riding through town that early on a weekend you see a completely different side of Hamilton as it awakens from it's slumber. It's cold, quiet and peacefull. Pleasant even, given that all the drunks from the night before have eventually gotten home to sleep it off. The only people I saw were 2 joggers and the old fella wandering ,back home for breakfast I imagine, with his morning paper under one arm and the bowl of the pipe he was smoking in the other hand. He gave me a wink as I puffed and panted, legs grinding away up the hill.

Having to accept that I just can't keep up an average speed of 16 to 18MPH up the hill I just sat back in the saddle and twiddled the pedals in the granny ring. It wasn't long though before the hill started to melt away under the constant effort I was putting in. I found a couple of times when the gradient increased sharply for a few yards I had to alternate getting up out the saddle in a slightly higher gear before sitting back down and enjoying the breather as it levelled out a little.

Eventually as the last group of houses and parked cars passed by I crested the hill feeling the same joy I get from topping out on a quiet Munro or Corbett. Rolling into the layby I unclipped my feet and sunk about half my water bottle whilst feeling very pleased with myself.


The sun was up now and I was starting to feel it's warmth radiating through my cycling jersey as I set off again turning shortly to go past the Cattery. Along the winding Muttonhole road toward Newhousemill road with it's last short, sharp climb I was looking forward to the down hill road all way back into Hamilton and home.

I'm not sure what my speed was on that down hill section but the electric road sign flashed something at me so it must've been over 30MPH anyway. My eyes were streaming and my toes instantly turned to ice as the cold air rushed in through the mesh on my shoes. I was enjoying this and it made the long climb earlier well worth the effort. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I may extend my commute home a couple of times a week to include this extra 10 mile or so loop. About 5 minutes later I half fell in the door, chest heaving and stumbled towards the kettle.

Louise still wasn't even up yet.

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