Throughout the first couple of weeks of December I keep up a steady pattern and plug away with the commute ride, so by the time the days of the year are dwindling, the end is in sight.
The sales started early, so I bought myself some new gear to help with the final push (if anything, in addition to the year of steady riding, this has been the year of buying clothes for cycling in) – some bib tights, which the Canadienne refers to as a ‘penguin suit’, thanks to its sleek wetsuit appearance, and finally, clip-in pedals and shoes. The first use of the bib tights is on the loop out to Meopham again, with Sasha. Amazing how different the scene is from just a month ago. All the cleanness is in the sky now, silver and solid, while the roads are mucky, and the fields muddy. Bare trees, and darkness all around. Cold, cold, cold.
It’s a rush finish to 2011 at work, long days and nights, and as usual, when I am finally done for Christmas, I was slapped down straightaway by another cold. Full of it, I drive to Mum’s in Sussex on the 23rd, bike in the back, new pedals still in their box. The BHAG has become famous, so they ask me how many miles to go; I sleep and drink lemsip and when I come round on Christmas Day, her husband helps me fit the pedals, and she parcels up the Christmas cake, and in the afternoon, all three of us head out.
The route is around the South Downs, towards Ditchling. I cycle the whole way; my Mum and her husband drive to the car park for the main ride, and they stop on the road waiting for me, checking. The three of us slip through the quiet villages and stop for our cake in the wintry countryside. In the evening, when we’re back, Mum makes me tea and cooks Christmas dinner. This is how you do the things you care about: buoyed by the people around you, carried by the words and the help of the people who care about you.