It was a glorious day for a ride. There was a little bit of rain in the air but nothing much came of it. For most of my ride the sun was shining and the countryside was looking lovely and autumnal. There were quite a few walkers and cyclists out and about enjoying it all.
Previously on Tlatet we've covered the reasons why I've not done any long rides recently. Today was my longest outing on the bike in nearly two months. Over that time I've done a couple of rides to Windsor and back, but I tend to think of the 20 mile ride to Windsor as one of my longer short rides, while the 30 mile loop round Fingest and the Hambleden valley is one of my shorter long rides.
On the more boring parts of a ride my mind tends to start turning over questions like "at what point does a long-short ride turn into a short-long ride". I've not come up with an answer, but I have decided that it's not just about the distance. Familiarity also has something to do with it. I've ridden today's route perhaps half-a-dozen times, but the Windsor route dozens of times. I drive the roads to Windsor quite regularly, but I drive up into this part of the Chilterns more rarely than I cycle. The landscape on the two rides is also quite different. Today's ride involves hills and country lanes. In places it's quite hard work. The Windsor route is ridiculously flat, so an easier ride, and it involves more built-up areas and busy roads. As much as anything else it's the difference between spotting half a dozen Red Kites circling above Hambleden, or a flock of swans somewhere on the Thames.
There are a couple of hilly parts on today's route. One is the long climb out of Marlow. This normally involves a bit of puffing and panting, and I usually measure my performance by how many cyclists overtake me. However, there were no other cyclists around on that stretch today, so I have to be a bit more subjective. On balance, I decided my efforts there were what my mother would call "nothing to write home about". On the other hand they weren't too embarrassing either. The other hilly bits are some crinkly climbs after Hambleden on the back road into Marlow. I've only once managed to climb all of those without getting off and pushing at some point. Today was the second time. And there was another milestone: I'm struggling to reach my goal for this year, but at least today takes this year's total past the mileage that I achieved in the whole of 2009.
In summary, the scenery delivered everything that was expected. The weather did more than we have any right to expect at this time of year. The bike is riding well. And the cyclist gets a warm glow, a gold star for the crinkly bits, and no black marks for the slow climb out of Marlow. All very satisfactory.