In shock autumn-related news I’ve already come to terms with riding in bad weather for another year.
Before people chime in with that old quote about there being no such thing as ‘bad weather’ only ‘bad clothing’ let me stop you right there.
I spend as much time as I can cycling. While it would be pretentious of me to refer to myself as a cyclist (out loud, to actual other people), deep down that’s what I like to think I am. As a cyclist, there is definitely such a thing as bad weather; I know this because I have had cause to stand in the shower and cry on occasion, while trying to gently warm up frozen body parts.
(Erm…my own frozen body parts. Obviously.)
I am also bored of stuffing my cycling shoes with newspaper and waiting for two days for them to dry out after pedalling through heavy rain. This is also evidence of bad weather.
My bike also knows about the existence of bad weather, as it stands propped in the shed creaking and acquiring a rusty hue. You may accuse me of bike neglect: click here for the evidence.
So while good clothes might mitigate bad weather, it’s still bad weather. Nothing has yet been invented which will stop my feet turning to unusable blocks of wood on a wet and freezing day, or prevent my bike acquiring a thick layer of grit and grime which eats away at the drive-train.
I will ride in bad weather, but I prefer good.
But before winter has even properly begun here in the UK I seem to have achieved a zen-like calm in the face of a wet and blustery autumn day which left my riding companion – a man familiar with my love of a hot sunny day – agog.
(And that’s not a word I use lightly. Or often…agog.)
I heard myself utter the words. My nerve endings sent them straight to my mouth without filtering them through my brain. I said:
“What a cracking day. It’s actually great to be out riding on a day like this isn’t it? Fresh, blustery, quite refreshing really.”
It doesn’t even sound like something I’d say, but on checking later my friend confirmed I did indeed utter this sentence. He hadn’t answered at the time, assuming there was a punchline coming. But this was an unexpected and earnest assessment of the pleasure to be had from a cold autumn morning on the bike.
In the interests of rigour, it’s worth mentioning that there were definitely two mitigating circumstances at play.
Firstly, I’d kitted myself out to a tee. I had my clothing spot on, and was neither struggling for warmth nor giving off steam like a boil-in-the-bag kipper.
Secondly, we were in striking distance of my favourite café and I’d already promised myself a piece of cake. In fact, the unspoken motivation for this ride, possibly for both of us, was to ride to the café for cake.
The cake was the point, the ride was incidental.
So I found myself in a bike-related happy place which led to a surprising new stance on the weather.
The question now is whether I can maintain this calm acceptance of a cold day on the bike? Can I keep up the outward cheeriness for the next four or five months? Am I going to have to take out a personal loan to cover the cost of all the cake that maintaining this façade might require?
I’m willing to give it a shot.