II really didn’t feel like riding at all last night. I had to give myself a proper kick in the pants to even get changed, let alone go for a road ride in the dark and the cold. Eventually, the bike came out on top and off I went, again over towards Rochdale and a cunning plan to ride up Edenfield Road, over the tops past Owd Betts, down into Edenfield then through Ramsbottom, Hawkshaw, Bradshaw, Harwood, Ainsworth then home. About 38 miles in total.Early on, I was really struggling with the road fumes. Living in Prestwich, I think I’m used to the smell and taste of a bit of pollution and it doesn’t bother me, but this time I could REALLY taste it. On the road to Rochdale it was getting so bad that I was starting to feel sick, every breath leaving a rotten taste in my throat (akin to the taste I used to get after gulping a load of 2-stroke from an outboard engine when I was into waterskiing) and a disgusting diesel stench in my nostrils. It must have been the atmospheric conditions on that particular night – I felt like I was riding through a huge cloud of harmful gas and that this ride was causing me more harm than good.

Once I starting climbing from Rochdale up to the moors, the air was much fresher, thankfully. I’d been attacking this ride from the moment I set off and despite my earlier efforts I was still attacking climbs like a nutter, trying to clean this hill in a fairly big gear. On the descent, it was nowhere near as windy as it has been, the visibility was better and it was a lot dryer. Lovely. What had started off as a struggle with my lack of motivation had turned into a brilliant and memorable ride….

I got home well after 11pm, pleasingly only 2 hours after I’d set off. Road riding rocks (apart from sucking in fumes).