I headed out on my usual run route, planning to keep heading north past the lighthouse and onto the coastal paths I’d seen on my cycle map. Straight out, keep the sea on your right on the way out, on the left on your way back. Simple directions even I can cope with.
Down to the bottom of the street, turn left and wallop! The wind smacks me in the face and it’s immediately hard work pedalling into the gusts. But at least my toes are toasty. After getting my feet cold and wet last time, I looked out a pair of neoprene socks I used to use when we went sailing at Kielder.
It takes me a while, but I begin to settle into the bike’s rhythm, smooth out my breath and relax. I go for easy gears. Not so easy that I’m free-wheeling, but not constantly hammering down the power. It’s just about clocking up the experience of a 20k ride today. No prizes for being faster, just enjoy it.
Along the sea front I see a gaggle of cyclists heading in the opposite direction and shortly behind them another and another. It looks like a group out for a friendly ride and makes me feel like I’m going in the wrong direction, head down into the wind.
I stand up on the pedals and burn myself out of breath on a short rise up from the promenade. And then the slight incline that I barely notice on my runs pulls away at my quads. But soon I’m properly off road, on the tracks and veering around puddles and walkers out by the dunes.
Straight on and straight out. Further north than I’ve ventured under human power alone before. There are so many lovely paths and walks here, it’s great to see them being used, even if I do have to slow down and give way in some of the narrower sections.
Out onto another tarmac cycle path and there’s a small boy on his bike following his dad. He’s pedalling furiously into the wind to keep up and I don’t want to spook him, but my squeaky brakes make him look around and put another spurt on to reach the next road crossing where I pass them with a smile.
Cycling beside the seagrass tufted dunes, looking out to the windmills at Blyth, it’s a great day to be out. The garmin beeps a halfway warning and I turn back, relishing the chance to put the wind behind me and enjoy some downhill coasting.
The route back is far easier, though not much different to my route out. I pass a trio of ladies out riding and chatting and spook a wee terrier that makes a dash for my wheels.
More confident and settled, I hit the higher gears on the way back and power up the odd rise with more determination. I exchange my now customary Sunday morning greeting with Martyn as he passes near Cullercoats and sail on by heading for home.
I’m flying now, in top gear, wind behind me, on the flat. A couple on lean, mean racing bikes ease on past, their legs barely turning over. But I’m enjoying my own adrenaline rush, like the sprint at the end of a long run and as the watch beeps for the end of the planned session, I decide I’d like a little more.
So bike racked in transition (parked up in the hallway), helmet, jacket and gloves off. Garmin reset and I’m back out for a run. A mile I think, then I realise I’m still counting in kilometres, so I’ll do two of those.
Once again I turn out of the wind and back along the coastal path. I still feel like I’m running in dream treacle but I’m hoping it’s one of those runs that feels slower than it is. My breathing and effort rate would certainly suggest it. Eventually I pile to a stop, stretch and head home for a hot shower.
Oh I just did my first outdoor brick session, didn’t I?
Stats and stuff:
20.04 km in 1:06:54
2k in 10:36