real life cycling

The cyclist’s guide to climate change

I often hear this term ‘micro-climate’, but I’m sceptical.

If you go on holiday somewhere and pick a week of unexpected sunny weather, this is not a ‘micro-climate’. It’s good luck.

If you live in Scotland and hear tales from your southern friends about prevailing weather conditions which are consistently five degrees warmer, this is not a ‘micro climate’. It’s latitude.

If you have a friend who is managing to grow Seville oranges in their garden in the north of England, this is also not a ‘micro-climate.’ It’s clearly witchcraft and you should immediately flee the country.

Or they might have a really good greenhouse, I suppose.

It’s one or the other.

However, when there’s a rule there has to be an exception which proves it. This old adage is handy, as it allows us to swat away any pesky evidence which might disprove our lazily constructed beliefs.

It also explains the Trough of Bowland, which very definitely does have it’s own ‘micro-climate.’ Ask any cyclist who has ever ridden through it.

As it happens, the Trough is also the route taken by the Pendle Witches to their trial at Lancaster Castle in 1612. So far, the success of Trough-grown Seville oranges has been patchy.

Mainly because it’s an inverse ‘micro-climate’; it’s not so much a sun-trap, as a sun-repellant. There is no evidence of any cyclist ever having returned from a ride and commented on how surprisingly warm conditions were in the Trough.


Apart from the exception that proves the rule, of course.

A local cyclist once claimed to have acquired tan lines on a particularly balmy June afternoon back in 1986. They were, naturally, drowned as a witch outside the local bike shop shortly afterwards.

The Trough is always resolutely colder, wetter, and grimmer than any neighbouring area.

For the cyclist, when it’s summer in the UK it’s early spring in the Trough, autumn means winter, and in winter it would be advisable to have Bear Grylls on speed dial to help drag you out of your imminent survival situation.

And did I mention the wind?

The Trough acts as a natural funnel – some scientists believe that as much as 95% of all the oxygen available in the north of England will have, at one time or another, wooshed down the Trough and chilled a cyclist to their bones.

I have had bike rides on days which the British media would characterise as heatwave conditions (22C and only a partially cloudy sky), accidentally headed for home via the Trough, and emerged in my home town of Lancaster wet, shivering, and with the thousand-yard stare of a nervous Vietnam vet.

Of course, when cyclists from outside the area ask us we tell them the Trough is God’s own cycle route. We spin tales of true northern grit and ‘proper’ cycling. We’re proud of how terrible the weather is, as if to ride anywhere else is really avoiding the issue.

Next time someone describes some balmy ‘micro-climate’ they found on holiday you should scoff, and snort, and cut them down to size with relentless logic.

Then remind them of the exception that proves the rule.

And then take them for a bike ride in the Trough of Bowland.

(Image: Floodwater via |The Trough of Bowland via

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4 comments on “The cyclist’s guide to climate change

  1. This made me laugh and I must confess to being a fair weather cyclist.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Miles Newman

    “Page not found”, mate.

    From: ragtime cyclist To: Sent: Monday, 29 May 2017, 20:12 Subject: [New post] The cyclist’s guide to climate change #yiv0958317460 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0958317460 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0958317460 a.yiv0958317460primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0958317460 a.yiv0958317460primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0958317460 a.yiv0958317460primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0958317460 a.yiv0958317460primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0958317460 | ragtimecyclist posted: “I often hear this term ‘micro-climate’, but I’m sceptical.If you go on holiday somewhere and pick a week of unexpected sunny weather, this is not a ‘micro-climate’. It’s good luck.If you live in Scotland and hear tales from your southern friends abou” | |

    Liked by 1 person

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