In the last 7 days I’ve ridden in some pretty classic British winter conditions – ankle-deep mud in the Brecon Beacons, frosty Oxfordshire cycle paths, a late night commute with a wind chill so vicious I feared I might be dropping fingers along the road side – and I ask myself why it is that even when the‘fair weather cycling’ season is over, I’m still out and about on my two wheeled friends. I’m not sure any of the following fully answer the question but here are some thoughts…
Some of the best friendships are forged/ cemented in those epic ‘battle against the elements’ rides
Too many examples to highlight – or should that be lowlight – but here are a choice few. Mending a pinch flat with Emily in the pitch-black sub-zero grass verge of the A4260 with only a LED balanced on a handlebar as visual aid. Getting so cold on Charlie’s Birthday ride that I turned blue to match my Dynamo kit and had to be helped with getting my own clothes off. Forging on in the driving rain with David and Sam at Afan when everyone with half a brain cell had hotfooted it back to the warm and welcoming café. Catapulting myself headfirst into a bog as Collyn, Kate, Sam and I struggled to get off the hill top as the dark clouds closed in…
Night-riding really brings out your ‘inner christmas tree’
I’m not one for accessories in ‘normal’ life but my god I’m partial to an LED. My current evening ensemble comprises: a flashing helmet light; a 20cm strobe pinned to the seat stay; 2 further flashing appendages; and a flashing LED and a ‘dim your headlights please’ 300 lumen powerhouse for the front. If you miss me then you’re beyond the reach even of SpecSavers. There are people out there that don’t like to wear helmets because they fear looking stupid. Well in my lycra clad, day-glo, reflective, flashing glory I am proud to be taking looking ‘ridiculous on a bike’ to a new level.
Being warm and cosy is only fully appreciated when preceded by being soaked to the skin/ frozen to the bone/ caked from head to foot in mud (delete as appropriate)
We’ve all been there, sitting in that halo of post-ride smugness inside our toasty houses watching the sheeting rain on the windowpane and saying to ourselves “Well at least I managed to get something out of the day”. Who cares if your shoes smell of dead animal for the foreseeable future or your washing machine is sulking over the latest damp and smelly onslaught, there is nothing quite like savouring a hot chocolate and a bath in the wake of a truly brutal encounter with the great outdoors.