The beauty of being a cyclist in and around Lancaster is the sheer variety of routes.
We’ve got a selection of hills and rolling lanes almost unrivalled in the UK, but head south out of town, through Cockerham and out towards Pilling, and there are great swathes of waterlogged farmland, intersected by long straight lanes which right-angle their way amongst the salt-marsh cattle and the new potatoes.
Many of my favourite rides skirt this flatland as I head for the hills, but a friend and I did a strange thing this week.
We went out for a (whisper) flat ride.
Well, we threw in 200 metres of hill climbing towards the end, for reasons of guilt as much as anything, but 30 miles of pancake flat preceded it.
And it was (whisper) fun.
Neither of us can say for sure how it came about, we just headed out without a plan and it happened.
We didn’t even acknowledge the inherent flatness of the route until about 25 miles in.
For long sections we rode in that perfect sweet spot where your pace and direction aligns perfectly with the wind, and the only sound to be heard is the swoosh of tyre on tarmac as you glide along effortlessly.
We weren’t exactly soft-pedalling but neither were we exerting ourselves, and we both had the same moment of clarity; we had been riding along and, well, chatting.
Nothing competitive, not pushing ourselves hard, no dented pride on either part. Just chatting.
Because of this flat ride we learnt more about each other in two hours than in two years of riding together.
He’s a fascinating man is my friend - turns out there’s more to him than simply riding as quickly as he can as often as possible.
Now I wouldn’t want to get too far into this cosy world of flat rides and friendly chats, that would definitely blunt the competitive edge (not to mention my fitness levels).
The option to take things easy on gradient free tarmac would be too great a temptation, and the beauty of a hill is that it demands that you climb it.
But I might just treat myself to a flat ride every now and again.
After all, no-one needs to know.