The last few months have pretty much been dominated by long days at work meaning virtually all my cycling has been commuting in the dark at both ends of the day. My road commute is grim. Unavoidable A-roads (the off road route is not suitable this time of year). I think grim commutes dominating life can make you forget how much you love cycling.
Recently I've taken a reduction in hours at work - I get one day off per fortnight so I can spend the day with my mum. And the last two freedom days I've enjoyed leisurely cycling from Stephen's back home after the morning rush hour traffic has dissipated. Last time I took the most direct route, which is usually pretty dull and busy, but I found myself enjoying a quite ride in the sunshine.
So today, I chose a longer, hillier route on roads I'd never been on before in my life. When you've lived in the same place your whole life, there's something wonderful about discovering new roads and seeing familiar places from a different perspective.
I smiled the whole way. And happily this seemed to make many motorists smile too. As I was enjoying a fast descent towards Whalley, an older gentleman beamed back at me from his delivery truck. Being up on the open moors is a wonderful feeling and I hope everyone was enjoying the beautiful day as much as me.
I extended the ride by riding around Pendle rather than through Padiham. Familiar roads, but good ones! Back Lane is usually devoid of cars and after the initial double chevron climb, once you're up there you ride along a ridge, meaning no tough climbs, just speed and the wind rushing by.
I ventured through Higham village for the first time in my life (usually I leave the ridge at another point) - very pretty and I must visit the pub for grub there sometime soon.
The last stretch was mainly in town traffic, which did stifle the smile a little, but I sped through and was in the park and back home in time for lunch.
22.2 miles, 2630ft of ascent, almost no flat - which is why living in the Pennines is amazing!