Wednesday, 15 October 2008

lliH retniW

A bit like a cloverleaf, I have evolved a series of familiar routes, each of which loops for around ten miles from home. There are four of them, heading roughly to the north, south, east and west. As a result, I can nip out for about an hour on the bike without having to think too much beforehand about where I am heading.

Each of the loops has a different character: so I can chose between something quiet, better views, or a flatter and faster ride depending on my mood. I am also learning that each loop works best at a different time of day. I avoid some at rush hour, because of heavy traffic; and some work better after dark than others.

That choice makes for some variety, but the route over Winter Hill, with the most quiet roads, and the best views, is the one I choose more often than any of the others. I must have ridden it, clockwise, a couple of dozen times - but until tonight I have never ridden it anti-clockwise.

In theory, anti-clockwise is best in the UK, because it normally means turning left at a junction, but in this case a clockwise route involves easier climbs, and sharper descents. The road down from Winter Hill into Cookham is exhilarating, but the climb from Cookham up to Winter Hill has always looked a bit daunting.

In practice it didn't really turn out that way. There are a couple of sharp ascents, but they don't last very long, and there is a level piece of road as a break between. I wouldn't say that I managed the climb without effort, but it wasn't nearly as tough as I expected.

The road was familiar, of course, but seeing everything from a different direction made for a bit of a change. More importantly, I've discovered that some hills might not be as challenging as they look.

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