Ah the Boxing Day hush, I love it. A chance to play with your presents, pick at the remains of the turkey carcass, watch a Die Hard film or dig out the board games.
Actually, what I’d really like to do right now is sneak out for a quick ride. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending Christmas with my family — especially now I’ve got kids of my own — but like a woolly festive jumper, the post-Christmas lull is almost too comfortable.
It’s a rare and delicious feeling to ride along country lanes when the air is crisp and the houses steamily snug, the few cars on the roads are driven with a vicar’s care, and the whole world is indoors snoozing or thinking idly about cheese.
So here’s what I’m going to be doing today, if I can just escape this damn sofa…
My perfect Boxing Day ride
I’ll be riding on the hills above Bath, working off those mince pies James Osmond
I won’t be seeking out the toughest of local climbs when I do manage to slip out, like a thief in the night — unwise after two straight days of excess — but there is a favourite little loop that gets the blood pumping then rewards me with stunning views.
It begins very close to my house with a long, straight 3km uphill drag (my ProCycling colleague Jamie Wilkins currently holds the Strava KOM), and by the time I reach the top I’ll be blowing quite hard.
The road goes past the splendid Beckford’s Tower, overlooking the city of Bath below. I’ll walk my bike through Lansdown Cemetery to peep over the wall at the stirring view beyond, dotted with farmhouses and fields. My own house twinkles somewhere in the valley below.
I’ll then spin onwards for another kilometre or two past chicken farms and playing fields, before hanging left down a crazily steep, winding lane that snakes back into the city. It averages 9 percent and tops out at 18 percent, and is exhilarating on a dry day, but terrifying on a wet or icy one. On this Boxing Day ride it’s as dry as a fine sherry.
A few dozen turns of the pedals take me past the hospital, past my local bike shop — best in the city — then it’s a left turn onto a quiet residential road to bring me home again.
I’ll push in through the back door again with my cheeks aglow, the bike returned to roost in its shed. The kids will be playing with something plastic and noisy, and mince pies are being warmed in the oven. Bliss.