I'm not sure if it's the lack of summer we've had for the past two years, or whether it has been particularly bad this time round, but this winter has really got to me like no other.

Training has been continuously interupted by illness (a lingering chest infect from a trip to Belgium in November being the worst), and a general feeling of tiredness and lethargy. What little base fitness I had at the start of the winter has all but disappeared.

It's all got me quite down about the prospect of getting fit enough to enjoy this year's Étape and starting road racing. As the rest of the group rode away from me up the Cat & Fiddle on Sunday, I was left alone to seriously contemplate what I was doing on a bike at all.

I think I need an injection of sun, and an injection of fun to kick start my enthusiasm. It would be a shame to sack it all off so early in the year....

So, I'm going to plan my riding for the next 3 months, and then spend a week with Mrs North at Lake Como in early May, where she will be working and I can do some riding. Let's see if that works.