This day the weather offered sunshine, with most of the recent snow fall having thawed and the temperature was just above zero. Having been off my bike since mid-December and this being my first ride of 2021 it felt hard, not quite a ´Retreat from Moscow´ as per Napoleon in 1812, but still tough enough for me to suffer.
On this ride I swallowed plenty of cold air and I paid the price with subsequent deep coughs to help purge the lungs. What I won´t be doing is to smoke, although some of my cycling friends might. In the past it was thought that smoking cleansed the lungs and was often sold as such. There are also menthol cigarettes which not only give you cancer but also frostbite even if they are as ´Cool as Mountain Stream´ (UK 1969 consulate advert).
When I was a smoker I would often light up when walking in a polluted hotspot. It just felt better….
Smoking was often argued to be integral to good health and helpful to ward off pollution and disease such as the plague which was believed to be spread by bad air (Miasmas). A good lung filling suck on a clay pipe accompanied by beer (safer than water) and oysters (poor people´s food then) was a staple diet of Londoners in the 1600´s and through the Victorian period. Check out this pictorial history about health and smoking by the Welcome Institute.
The 37km route featured plenty of asphalt or concrete roads with 14 good gravel sectors.