It’s a greasy, slick morning to be out on the bike. There’s a flicker of orange from the traction-control light on the dash, a tiny but ball-shrinking hint of sideways motion as I get off the second roundabout from my house: cold tyres and a snotty road don’t feel happy together.
But at least it’s a clear morning, bright and nearly sunny, with watery blue patches between the whispy clouds. I’m heading north... after going to the doctor, to find out my blood group (O+ if you’re bothered). It’s only a few miles but by the time I get there the bike - immaculate when I pushed it out of the garage - is filthy. It’s only going to get dirtier...
I’m not rushing today’s ride. I’ve put the time aside to enjoy some of my favourite roads. I head up the A52, with the killjoy cameras in its irritating 60mph average limit, then up the A15. Peel off along the back roads towards Woodhall Spa - across the wide open flatness of the fen between Martin and Kirkstead Bridge, before the land gradually starts to undulate as I get to Horncastle.
This is why I’m coming this way: to ride Caistor High Street. It’s not lined with shops. The B1225 between Horncastle and Caistor runs across the top of the Wolds - it passes Wold Top, the highest point, so must be the highest road in the county.
It’s a great rod to ride, too. It flows and curls, longish straights feeding into every kind of corner. Mostly the surface is good, but one stretch is so roughly pitted and patched it feels like the bike is rolling over egg boxes. Over the B1203 and the surface improves. This is the high wold and the road throws out the longest straights and the tightest turns. The Z1000SX devours them.
I carry on more or less due north, over the Humber Bridge, towards Beverley, taking a shortcut shown to me by my pal Hoody, picking up the B1248. This is another vintage biking route, cutting north to Malton. I stop for fish and chips in Wetwang - the chippy appears to have changed hands since I last ate here, two years ago, but the haddock is still the size of a whale and the chips are excellent.
Climbing the hill north of Fimber, crossing into North Yorkshire, a bearded man in hi-viz (who I’d ridden past in Tibthorpe) takes a picture of me on his iPad. What’s that about? I’m almost tempted to turn round and confront him about it... but why bother? What harm can it do.
I carry on, thinking about this, when a bike comes the other way with the rider gesturimg to slow down. I look ahead and see a speed-camera van; hmmm, my speed had drifted up a little but I knock it back to 60 as I pass the camera.
From Malton I head up to Pickering, past Flamingoland - never been in but the name still amuses me. I fill up at the BP and forget to get my Nectar points, then carry on to Helmsley. I stop in the market square - the onl bike there - just long enough to take a picture of my poor, grime-encrusted motorbike.
Then it’s time for another great ride: the North York TT, the B1257. It’s a cracking road but the sky is darkening - I need to pick the pace up but I‘m a bit cautious on the slick, polished sections of tarmac before the epic, twisty run to Chop Gate.
The rain hits at Stokesley, a thin but icy drizzle. There’s a vivid rainbow almost directly ahead, as if a pot of gold awaits me somewhere on Teesside. In fact, all that’s waiting there is the A19 and the dull canter to the Tyne Tunnel (and the ludicrous congestion on the north bank). At least the rain packs in to leave a bright but chilly earl winter sunset.
Still, it’s been a good day’s ride. Brilliant roads and scenery, even if it was dirty and slimy. But I wasn’t rushing anyway.