I went for (another) bike ride this morning. Until we moved here to Cambridge and I got properly out on a bike in a place away from London’s heavy traffic I had forgotten how much I love riding a bike. While I lived in Shropshire as an early teenager my bike was my main method of transport – I cycled to school, to my cricket club, to see my mates, and to simply go for a bike ride. When I moved to the Mendips at 16 I continued, for a while, to ride my bike, but by 17 my mates and I were heading towards cars and driving – especially those of us who lived up on the hills rather than the Levels, where my college was and several friends lived. So I forgot my old childhood friend, the bike. Until now. I had forgotten my love for the bike, but I had also forgotten something else – my hatred of headwinds!
My ride this morning took the same route as Saturday’s with the wee one, but with two differences. The first is that I went further, turning back not at Baits Bite Lock but Waterbeach, 2 miles further downriver. The second was that while Saturday had been a very calm, late summer day today is a somewhat breezy early autumn day. When you mention that you will be, or are, living in Cambridge people always comment how flat it is, and if bikes are included in the conversation then the ease of cycling in the area is also usually mentioned. What fails to be mentioned is that while Cambridgeshire, indeed the whole of East Anglia, is generally flat it is also generally very open. There are no hills and few high hedges or walls, so when the wind blows, even as a breeze, you can feel it – especially if you’re trying to ride into it! So today, instead of the gentle, easy, relaxing ride I had expected to take about an hour I ended up with a somewhat tougher challenge that took me an extra half-an-hour – the bends of the river unfortunately meant I faced headwinds at points both going and coming back.
Life can, I am more than aware, feel like that sometimes. One day something can seem so easy and then, suddenly, doing the same thing can seem challenging. It’s especially true when the environment changes, when you move from a supportive atmosphere to one where people seem more combative, or when someone you love leaves you for some reason. And turning around won’t always help, as sometimes you’ll find the wind is swirling and catching you going both ways. Yet eventually the wind will die down, you’ll find a route that brings you shelter or gives you a tailwind for a while, or you’ll get fitter and the wind will need to be much stronger for you to notice it. Whatever headwinds you are facing at the moment, remember that things will eventually get easier. In the meantime, remember there’s nothing wrong with stopping and taking a rest, and if you’re lucky, you can take the time to enjoy the view.