There it is, I have been waiting for it for the best part of 9 miles. I have been labouring on the bike for half an hour, not feeling it at all. The north-easterly cutting through me; the christmas pudding weighing heavy on my belly, stretching the unforgiving clothing; hardly a car on the road.
And then, just as that funny little squiggle heralds Party Fears Two by The Associates on the shuffle, my legs suddenly feel free, the tempo of the bike subtlely shifts and it all becomes, well, not easy, but definitely comfortable. And with it comes that inward smile and the message which flashes regularly across my mind whenever I ride - I love my bike!
It's unusual now for me to ride by myself but after the madness of the holiday period it's necessary to get out and blow it all away. I leave at 8 wrapped up in my full winter fig, and roll out onto roads suspiciously quiet. The urban sprawl of south east Essex eventually gives way to farmland and rural scrub. The winter trees like an X Ray on the horizon hold little but the occasional messy scribble of a rook's nest, the land unpopulated except for the ridiculous splendour of a brace of pheasants and me spinning free on my way out to Canewdon.
On the way back past Wakering Church I meet CSC coming the other way. He is one of the founding fathers of the Leigh Riders and is out for a little spin, checking his knee is ok and generally taking the air. He turns round and we roll back together for the final ten miles. Swapping Christmas stories and eating up the seafront without really noticing. We part at the top of his road and I push on home, looking forward to the well earned shower, cup of tea and the warm righteous glow that only the bike can give me.