Spring truly arrived across the Weald of Kent and North Downs on Sunday – gorgeous, perfect. Seems like the first ride of the year where I’ve not been concerned about ice. Between Penshurst and Leigh; I first disturb three deer also on the road enjoying the sunshine, then I overtake a chap on a road bike who just drafts behind me. Don’t know why, but I find his reduced effort tucked into my slipstream really annoying. On the short climb up to Leigh I give everything I’ve got to drop him. Suddenly I’m riding for the polka dot jersey. I cross the line alone, and the traditional shout of “Bollocks!” under the railway bridge has never been more satisfying. He was probably 65 years old with loads of miles in his legs already – but it felt good.

Following that early success and feeling competitive (thanks Strava) I really push myself. Gnawing at the back of my mind is that there are just 12 weeks to go before we attempt Mont Ventoux. Delighted to find when I get home, a five minute improvement on last week’s time, with personal bests up both Yorks and Toys Hill. However I’m still defeated by Fordcombe Hill and my legs are jelly by the time I reach the short shallow incline from the roundabout by the Spa to the pelican crossing by the Travel Lodge. That “hill” is one of my many nemeses.

Unfortunately I immediately put back on the 2688 calories I’ve burnt off with three excellent courses and a pint of Harveys at the Kentish Hare in Bidborough.

However, inspired by yesterday’s ride, I pop into the gym at work to measure progress. For the five minute flat out test on the Watt Bike my average is up to 299! I might have been able to scrape over 300, but I became very conscious that my huffing and puffing was so loud, it was drowning out the techno coming from gym’s sound system. I collapse off the bike and fall onto the scales, weigh in at 81.3kg – although most of the loss appears to be perspiration left on the saddle of the Watt Bike.

You know what – this might just be doable. Amazing what a bit of sunshine can do…


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