Moving down to level three was big news for me – bike shops were allowed to open. This meant I could think about replacing the bike that was stolen the week before we went into lockdown. I hadn’t ridden for a few weeks before that so today was my first cycle ride in a couple of months. Wellington’s ‘breeze’ showed up to welcome me back onto two wheels.
I wouldn’t normally go out on my bike when it’s as windy as it is today. Not only is cycling headwards into a Wellington ‘breeze’ akin to cycling up Mt Everest, the wind in Wellington rarely blows in a straight line. The only time it does is when it is funnelled between buildings (and all buildings over a certain height built now in Wellington have to follow strict rules re the wind – for instance they cannot be perfectly straight-sided and must have bits jutting out here and there. Or some fancy architectural term that means the same).
Cycling around the coast there are few points where the road is straight. It swings around small bays and headlands, the sea one side, hills rising the other. It’s a perfect playground for a frisky breeze, allowing it to gust and twist, blowing towards you one moment, then coming from behind you as it bounces off a hill. It then buffets you from one side, pushing you towards the gutter, before suddenly changing its mind to blow from the other side so you risk ending up under a passing car. If a Tour de France peloton cycled around here in this wind it would be carnage.
The way out wasn’t too bad, the wind occasionally in our faces but mainly behind us. Wind-assisted, we flew along, accelerating without pedalling. The return trip was a different story. Most of the time we were into the wind, straining against the pedals as though we were on a hill. Rounding the headlands was like someone had jumped out behind me and hooked a car trailer onto the back of the bike. The last straight towards Pt Jerningham I was also towing the car. A couple of gusts tried to unseat me into the wall of hill beside me and I gave up and climbed off. I’m not saying the wind was fierce but I could hardly walk into it.
Despite the wind it was nice to be out on wheels again, even nicer to be able to travel a little further. We cycled to the coast for a glimpse of the wide open, passed a friend’s place and stopped to say hello (whilst maintaining social distancing), which was lovely, and I got some serious blood pumping around my body (Neil had a casual ride). I’ve got a not-been-on-a-bike-for-weeks bum and I suspect tomorrow my muscles will know about it, but I feel like I’ve had more exercise than I’ve had in weeks and I can’t wait to get out again.