The break in posts recently is not indicative of a lack of activity, training wise. Far from it. It represents a change of venue and distance from a PC of any sort, in the form of a welcome family holiday in the far south-eastern corner of England, not far from Dungeness.
And therein lay an immediate issue - the terrain. Or rather lack of it, given the express need for Peaks training.
I needn't have worried - what the drained marshland lacked in contours it made up for in wind. Of the incessant, blasting, reducing you to a grovel variety. To this rider, used to the consistently vertiginous East Lancashire hills and moors it was quite simply, a delight.
I had previously heard traditional explanations for the late 20th Century success of Dutch climbers in Grand Tours attributed to the strength gained from training on the flat, in constant winds, and how that is akin to the kind of efforts required on long climbs. And I can vouch for its truth now. After a few days of short sharp rides, mostly into the infernal wind, my legs were battered. An even with the wind behind, the temptation to use it and pedal hard was irresistible leading to several spinning out returns to our holiday home. Note to self: cross gearing of 46x12 is insufficient, even on the flat, when the wind is blowing from behind at 30mph or so.
The Marshes around Rye, New Romney and Dungeness also happen to be peculiarly beautiful, albeit in a slightly desolete way. Flat, windswept and sparsely featured, they are anything but boring with the desert like area of Dungeness popular with bird watchers, photographers, alternative communities and a ruddy great nuclear power station.
The sense of space and sky was at times quite intense, alluding to what it must be like to ride through some of the great plains areas of the US and Canada. I took a lot of black and white photos of sky and horizon, fascinated with the everchanging cloud patterns. Little farms, isolated houses and shacks also peppered the route around the marshes, with some of the back lanes taking wonderfully quirky routes around the network of drainage ditches.
Running? Nil. Cross riding? Nil. No matter, the training was good and hard in the wind, fun out of it and I feel replenished after not just a holiday, but the break from tough terrain. And as a consequence, I'm all the keener to get back into the swing of things Peak like.