Occasionally, no matter how experienced a cyclist you are, you will come face to face with the dreaded realisation that you’re out on your bike and wearing the wrong clothes.
I don’t mean completely the wrong clothes, of course.
If you are out for the usual Sunday morning café run and you find yourself wearing your skinny fit jeans and pointy brown shoes then you’ve clearly dressed more for the café than the bike. That would be a prime example of ‘completely wrong’. Having said that, depending on the pointiness of the brown shoes your outfit could be described as ‘completely wrong’ whatever the activity.
That’s a judgement call, and one for the pointy shoe police.
Every time you roll off down the road in search of freedom, fresh air, and a selection of artisanal coffee and cake, you should be running the numbers through that part of your brain marked ‘cycling’. If you cross reference air temperature, wind speed, month of the year, route, and riding companion correctly you might, if you’re lucky, find yourself enjoying a bike ride and wearing the right kit.
Get it wrong and you’ll shortly find yourself either huddled against the cold, or sweating like a jockey in a sauna trying to make the weight.
As it dawns on you that you’ve misjudged the weather you could turn back for a costume change, but let’s be honest, the amount of faffing about and lost time is just too much to contemplate. If you’re with a riding companion can you really make them wait just because you failed the most basic test of them all: getting dressed successfully?
If you’re too hot you may wonder if you can plausibly tie the extra layer of clothing around your bike frame, like a jumper around your waist on a sunny spring day. For the record, no. No you can’t. At best you could stash the offending layer in a hedge for collection at a later date, but even that is avoiding the issue.
If you’re too cold you can really only pedal harder, or hope you make it to the café in some kind of vaguely respectable state, to get warm enough to tolerate the ride back home.
Over time your simple cyclist’s brain should store enough of these misadventures so that your judgement becomes refined and reliable. You will still have the odd wardrobe malfunction, but the ability to cope with adversity in stoic fashion is one of the lessons that cycling teaches us.
If you are too hot, or too cold, the only honourable course of action is to take whatever punishment the weather gods decide to dish out, whilst simultaneously giving an outward impression of complete indifference to the conditions.
No-one likes a drama queen, after all.