Blinding ride on Monday. Straight out of the front door and into the blue. Or the grey. Pausing to meet an old and good riding mate in Royston Vasey then off for a chatty roll aong the Longdendale Trail and over - via the old railway line from Dunford Bridge - to Langsett.
I don't rate brutality. It's premeditated, a choice and I don't think the hills make choices, they just are. But the climb over Cut Gate, all five miles or so of it, was quite hard. Into a screaming headwind, ridden on sludge. The sort of day when you think, 'it's just me', then realise that your mile-toughened mate is also having something of an epic. Granny ring all the way, mostly rideable, but every so often a step or nadge where you're already at redline and there are no more revs for the step up, so you're off and walking.
The relief of the top and the familiar sight of Ladybower spread out below. Loving my bike for taking me there, then down, cautiously at first, along eroded, rutted trail, then as things firm and loosen at the same time, that mental plummet back to ground level and the roll along the side of the reservoir. Chatting to leisure cyclist - leezure cyclists - on hire bikes, knocking along with a couple on a tandem, noticing, wryly that we're the only people there liberally splattered with gritty mud.
So the pasty and tea was earned. And needed. And go away, sharking, begging ducks. Cheek.
And after all that I nearly cleaned the Lockerbrook climb, failing mentally rather than physiologically near the top before the roll over to Potato Ally, the Roman Road, Jaggers - a familiar Peak litany - up the 'surprisingly rideable' and unsurprisingly unrideable climb to Hollin's Cross.
Just lovely to be out with stellar views across the Edale Valley to Kinder and, tucked away in the corner, Jacob's Ladder. But that's for another day. A quick conference and we opt for a headwindy roll along the road rather than the Rushup Quagmire, then right onto the Roych track, the first time I've seen it without snow drifts this year. And it's April for gawd's sake, how did that happen?
And is it wrong to laugh at a convoy of 4x4s stranded and grounded on bedrock slabs? Especially when they're so shiny.
Then it's the last proper climb out of the ford. Winching up in the small ring, head-windy miles leeching into tight calves and hamstrings and taking enough of an edge off things to make the final steppy climb over South Head a two-stage affair. Then springs unwinding on the plummet down Highgate Lane into Hayfield where the shop is shut, but the caff is seductively open.
Way too close to home, but hey, never look a gift cake in the mouth. And we do get gift cakes as well, scones which would otherwise have gone in the bin. What a great place, fab cakeage and should be on all western Peak itineraries. Mountain bikers welcome, muddy or not. Try the muffins, they rock, but then so does everything else.
And so finally limped over Lantern Pike and screamed back into sunny Glossop with legs both in pieces and reassuringly still quite functional. A lovely day with a gentle hint of spring in the air and good company. Not about the speed. Or the pain. Or the miles. Just the riding.