Like many Students, I am currently in the midst of a classic end of term burnout. Juggling deadlines, cooking, laundry and all the other features of  University life is just starting to become very hard. My Bike looks like I feel; the cable housing has rotted away in places, the gears are rubbing, the bottom bracket is creaking and the bar tape is beginning to unravel. Both it and I are in need of a break – Christmas cannot come soon enough.
img_0357Devon is a nice place to ride, don’t get me wrong. West of where I live you have Dartmoor, a place that should be on the bucket list of any Cyclist in my opinion. Many miles of quiet and largely unspoiled
landscape can be explored, just be sure to bring plenty of food and a good waterproof. You can of course also go North, if you have the time it’s possible to reach Exmoor and get back before dark (In the summer anyway). To the East you have the Blackdown hills, at this time of year they are particularly spectacular. If none of that takes your fancy, you can just ride down to Exmouth or Sidmouth and sample the jurassic coast. There is however one problem, all this scenery comes at a cost – many many hills.


img_0416So far I’ve found a grand total of two flat pieces of road. Both of which carry on for about 5 miles, before coming to a climb. In Devon, there isn’t really such thing as an easy ride – back when I was racing fit this wasn’t so bad, in fact it was very useful for training purposes. Now things are different; carrying a few extra pounds from the off season, wearing heavy winter kit and being generally unfit can make rides a bit of a challenge. Long steady rides are more or less impossible – intensity is a necessity rather than a choice, if you can’t make it up a 20% incline then good luck getting home.


img_0473After three months, the novelty is beginning to wear off. I long for the flatter terrain of my native Somerset and Dorset. I made the mistake of popping home for a visit last weekend, I’d forgotten how nice it felt to be-able to ride at a steady pace, without the ever present threat of a leg burning climb around the corner. It was a ride I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, one of those rare pleasant winter mornings; cold, crisp and fresh. I had time to enjoy the sights, not having had to suffer in order to reach them.



img_0465Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for high intensity training and pushing myself hard. Just not at this time of year and not when I have so many other things on my mind. It is a deeply soothing experience to ride a route you know so well that you could probably make it round with your eyes shut, especially after a long time away. It was made even better by that fact that I was riding my beloved Specialized – lighter, faster and a better size than my Cannondale which serves as a winter bike. It’s rides like this that keep me going in the winter, providing a welcome break from the cloudy and grey conditions that characterise the season.

Suffice to say – I’m truly looking forward to going home for Christmas. It won’t all be plain sailing; mainly due to a planned operation to remove the metal plate from my shoulder and the unfortunate need to revise for exams in January. However; the flat roads, well-known routes, availability of a lighter bike and of course those all important post ride mince pies more than make up for it.

On that it’s goodnight from me – time to prepare myself for another day of lectures and lab reports. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “My kingdom for a flat road.

  1. It’s amazing what a few pounds off the bike will do for a ride, eh? I know your pain, though it’s all flat all of the time here. We actually have to hunt for a 10% grade.

    1. Exactly – lighter may not actually be much faster but it certainly feels like it. 10% Practically counts for flat around here.

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