One evening a couple of weeks ago, just before the icy Armageddon wreaked the kind of chaos that catches us all off guard and unprepared - well it only happens every year - I was girding myself for the ascent up Archway Road on my trusty, middle-of-the-range Pinnacle bicycle. It's a pig, that hill, a precipitous gradient close to overhanging. I'm 53, you know, and asthmatic, and I've got exceptionally dodgy knees, and I've been a little above my fighting weight for a while now (49 years), yet I am forced into daily combat with this demon if I am to make it back to the sanctuary of my Muswell Hill manor.
Now, as any regular cyclist will attest, there is no such thing as a following wind. It doesn't exist. It's a chimera. Cycle round a roundabout, a full 360, and the gale will be in your face all the way round, battering you, pummelling the skin on your face, ripping your hair from its very roots. All the way round. You hear me? It's nature at its most taunting and vindictive. And if there's a bit of rain in the air - with its spiteful shards and needles pocking and slicing, opening wounds to the flesh, the mind, the spirit that may never heal - God help you.
So, anyway, as I rounded the grim dereliction that is Archway Roundabout, my jaw set to 'grimly determined' for the routine double whammy - wind-against + vertical ascent - a sudden gust, no more, lifted me, driving me onwards and upwards on gossamer wings towards the brief, free-wheeling relief of Muswell Hill Road's downslope, my aching, ageing legs suddenly spared, my bronchial, wheezing lungs in unexpected oxygen-credit. It was like God's arm around my shoulder, forgiving me all my cycling sins (ok, I go on the pavement sometimes and ignore the odd - and even - red light). And, in that brief, epiphanic moment, I questioned my violent atheism for the first time in thirty years.
Course, it only lasted five seconds. A sleet-speckled tornado opened its jaws and pummelled my very soul, mocking my natural lack of aerodynamics, my physical decrepitude, my fleeting belief in another way, and forced me to cycle through treacle as I searched for a gear that doesn't exist.
I made it home. I always do. Somehow. It was a freak, that little gust, a one-off, something I'm unlikely to experience again during my diminishing lifetime. And maybe, indeed, it was evidence of a higher power, one whose sense of humour is bordeline malevolent. He's up there cackling as we speak, concocting still further indignities to heap upon those of us who dare to wear Lycra.
We shall not be moved. Literally.