The Bonnie fired straight into life and I felt a touch guilty that it's throaty exhaust note might wake the neighbours so early on Easter Sunday. As quietly as possible I motored out through Windermere which to be honest wasn't that quiet at all but nothing like the deafening roar this machine makes when you really give it a fistful. This operation and its subsequent auditory onslaught shortly followed as the twisting Kirkstone Pass quickly opened up. It was indeed fresh. Even with my choice of an open faced lid the visor kept misting up if I didn't direct my breath anyway except downwards. All felt good on the top half of my body and not a single sneaky draft. The same couldn't be said for my legs. Knees in particular.
I dodged 2 low flying pigeons, a few sheep, as expected and a bunny which surely had to escape a tyre this morning of all mornings. Just after cresting the Kirkstone summit the temperature plunged as often happens when you enter new valleys. Ahead was something I hadn't anticipated. Heavy frost smothering the low lying fields around Brotherswater. My hands and knees started to stiffen with cold and I had to concentrate even more to keep the visor clear.
By the steamer pier at Genridding on Ullswater I couldn't continue any further so pulled into the parking lot. The soft early sun was grazing the craggy slopes of Helvellyn but in the valleys it would continue to stay marginally above freezing for some time yet. I warmed my hands over the hot engine and fumbled a phone shot. The occupants of an ancient campervan stirred and offered me a wave but not the hot brew I really wanted.
It was just after 6.45 with hands tingling back into life that it was time to continue. As Ullswater swings to the east I was met with a low sun in my face. The hike in temperature was welcome but riding into the dazzling light on this twisting read wasn't. That said the traffic wasn't exactly heavy. Only one vehicle seen since departure. A white van. What else!
At Aira Force I took a left and climbed up the fast winding lanes through Dockray and Matterdale and out onto the high moorlands to the north. I passed a blue farm Landrover. Vehicle 2. I was now on the A66 to Keswick with the sun on my back but my hands slowly returning to a deep cold ache. With a completely empty trunk road as a foreground, Blencathra and NW fells made a stunning picture bathed in rich golden light. My long shadow projected dead ahead in perfect symmetry. I could see my jeans flapping in sync to the even beat of this freshly fettled twin.
I peeled off the A66 and took the lovely road through St John's in the Vale which I know could be the coldest valley yet. Silver frost covered tents pitched for the bank holiday. I imagined how cosy it would be wrapped in a good down sleeping bag and then realised I needed to stop again as slick clutch operation was essential on this stretch. The sun was again hidden as I cruised to a halt under a lovely old road sign to the church. It took 10 minutes to bring life back to my hands but my the knees were now beyond hope! I was careful not to burn my paws on the hot engine and kept well away from the exhausts. Slowly the trick worked its magic and I set off once more.
The bike felt great and in my own opinion so well suited to these smaller roads. It's nimble yet it delivers more than adequate power when needed. I'm surprised at how the torque has improved since the rebuild and shifting is kept to a welcomed minimum on this, the coldest stretch. Another left and I'm on the homeward leg passing Thirlmere to my right. A light breeze riffles the surface in feather like patterns. The faint scent of resin mixes with the cold air as I passed along the forested shore and soon the gradual climb to Dunmail Raise was behind me. The temperature shifted up a few notches as Grasmere came to view. Car 3 appeared. Bread was being delivered in Ambleside and 10 minutes later I rolled back into base. It was 7.30. My hands were nearly dead again. My knees ached with numbing cold but my feet and torso were just fine. There was not a moment to inspect the steed in the time honoured way as I scuttled to the kettle with all speed. Revival was all that was on my mind.
It was a great ride and made out of choice unlike my earlier biking days when it was out of necessity. I was daft not to have used my insulated bike trousers but what really astonished me was how effective the EDZ Inner Shell performed and kept me going. There's nothing to it and yet it adds way more to comfort than say an extra fleece which there may not be room for anyway. It's a gem and compresses smaller than a tennis ball so there's always room for it in a pocket or under the saddle.
For the potential cynics I'm not paid to write this but I do know the EDZ team and was curious to try this item out. It really doesn't look like it can add much to rider comfort which I guess is why many bikers will overlook it. Many of the old guys will tell you about stuffing newspaper down the front of their jackets. This works in the same way but is a little more convenient and you don't end up with newsprint all over your tee-shirt.
Happy and safe biking, Tony