My day in the country started early- for us- when the alarm went off at 7am, and I got up to eat my morning-after oats (the lazy girl's version of "overnight oats" 1/4c scotch oats, 1/4c organic whole oats, 1/2 c Naturlea plain yoghurt, 1 grated apple, some cinnamon, LSA, agave, and a carefully measured teaspoon of Ceres organic almond butter (at $15 a jar, and a fair few calories too, I can't let my teaspoons grow into tablespoons...)) and hot (instant) coffee.
Then we headed out for a 2 hour hilly bike ride. It was still frosty when I looked outside a little after 8, so I knew it was much colder than usual (the frost has usually gone by the time we leave at about 7:40am). But I didn't realise quite HOW cold it was... the lawn outside our house was quite sunny, and I'm used to mild Auckland winters, where you're almost always overdressed in anything more than knee warmers, so when I felt the rays of sun, I swapped my winter gloves for my normal summer gloves and took off. I knew before we got out of our culdesac that it was a mistake- the Southerly bit as soon as we started moving, but I decided to be staunch, and told myself I'd warm up once we got up the first wee hill. I was wrong. Before we were even 1km in, I was practically crying in pain, and had to tuck my tail between my legs and ask Phil to turn around to go and get the winter gloves. Staunchness Fail. I picked up another layer while I was there- I wasn't dressed up that much, but more than I'm used to (knee and arm warmers, jersey, bibs, booties, winter gloves with polyprop Kathmandu liners, thermal headband and a windproof vest). My hands were still throbbing so I warmed them up a bit before we got going.
We had decided to take on the challenge of Sanitorium hill- it was always in the pipeline, and after telling a judge it was on the agenda, we had to follow through! I've run partway up before (I was interrupted by Phil crashing his bike...) but neither of us had ever ridden it. It's about a 3k climb, starting off quite steep then levelling out for a bit, then getting steeper and steeper and steeper as it winds its way up. I was strong but slow for the first 10 mins or so of climbing, then started really feeling the steep grade- you know, the feeling that if you take a breath your bike will roll backwards out from under you and down the hill. I nearly gave up at 11 minutes, and 12, and 13, and then at 14...
I pulled over to the side of the road, huffing and puffing, and stood there for 30 seconds or so to collect myself. Then I hardened the f*** up and got back on- I had to remind myself of all the heinous hill starts we did in Auckland to convince myself to get back on! I felt pretty poos about it, but when the next 2-3 corners were equally insane-o steep I knew I'd done the right thing. It's been a long, LONG time since I wussed out on a climb, so I should be able to trust my judgment. I reached the top with a sigh of relief after about 17 minutes (..i.e, slower than I run!)
My relief was mingled with trepidation. What goes up must also go down. *gulp* I tested my brakes, lost a layer of gloves (Phil's fingertips were still tingling) and got on my way.
The short story is that descent was the longest THIRTEEN minutes of my life. Yes- you read right, it took me nearly as long to get down the damn hill as it did to get up. I was shaking with fear the whole way, and I'm getting a bit of tickle belly just writing about it now! It wasn't just steep, it was windy as heck and it didn't help that in places the road was pretty gravelly. I know I'm a descending wimp, but it was seriously hideous. Phil agrees and he's hard.
We spent the rest of our 2 hour ride exploring country roads. It was still cold- neither of us ever felt overdressed, and I started regretting giving Phil the gloves, but it was absolutely stunning out there.
We changed quickly at home and headed to the Cambridge farmers' market for one of Mavis's cinnamon buns, a loaf of pumpkin sourdough, Pirongia cheese (if you ever get the opportunity to buy this, TAKE IT) and a random selection of veges, including celeriac, fennel and white-y yellow baby carrots. Phil headed off to the football (his team was playing in Hamilton), and I pottered around the house, doing chores, and googling recipes for the weird ingredients.
At about 3:00, I headed out with Eric again. I rode the 16k or so to our friends' farm, where I changed into jeans and gumboots for a jump in the woodchips, a walk through the paddocks and a visit to their neighbours 30 adorable new jersey calves (the oldest were 5 days old and the youngest were born this morning).
Now we're topping off a perfect country day with English style ale, (low fat) beef sausages, roasted fennel, mustardy celeriac mash, and steamed yellow carrots... oh- and the All Blacks!