At shortly after 10am today, Sunday, June 8th, there was brilliant sunshine from an almost clear blue sky. My daughter cycled the two miles from her home to join me and we set off on what proved to be my longest ride to date.
We cycled out of my usual territory, and away from the hills, into a very flat area between Cardiff and Newport, next to where the Bristol Channel becomes the Mouth of the Severn. This must be almost perfect cycling country, being flat with long, straight country lanes, often running alongside the long straight irrigation and drainage channels (locally known as reens) and with plenty of open views obstructed by nothing more than reeds rather than tall hedges.
We had chosen a short route, starting and finishing with the short sharp hills near my home, followed by more gentle gradients and then a small loop of about 3-4 miles through this flat, fen-like countryside called (on the Ordnance Survey map) Wentlooge Level. The open countryside was sparsely populated though there were a couple of small villages on our route. There were also several public houses and (I was told) an Indian restaurant. All of which will have to be sampled over the next year or two and there are longer routes within this flat area to which we can progress as we become fitter.
This appears to be cattle grazing country. At one point we stopped close to the group of local residents (shown above) who probably thought we were awfully rude to stand and stare. So they stared back, with the usual uncertain mixture if curiosity and laid-back indifference.
We took our time, proceeding at a fairly leisurely pace and stopping several times for refreshment. This, the easy cycling, and the much more enjoyable experience of cycling in company rather than alone, enabled me to more than double my previous maximum mileage. Just three weeks ago my first ride on the bike took me around the block by my home, a distance of under a mile. At the end I was overheated, very tired and aching all over for several hours afterwards. Today I cycled 7.74 miles with no ill effects at all. Perhaps the secret of success at my age is to take it in easy stages. Well, my targets for the next few weeks are a 4.4 mile route involving hills and further trips to Wentlooge where the routes will increase to 10 and then 15 miles. Perhaps by then I might be not just fitter but lighter as well.