It is currently two degrees out there today. It was one and a half yesterday (with a wind that felt like it was minus two). It was thirteen last weekend. It is that ever changing time of the year when the weather comes over all peculiar and has hot flushes in between bouts of biting cold.
How many of you braved the snow the other week and cycled to work? I took one look at the blanket of snow on the floor and caught the train instead. I did not see too many cyclists on the roads but there were a couple of hard-core types who were putting me to shame as I walked to the station in my warm clothes and comfy walking boots. Personally I thought that they were slightly mad yet I doffed my woolly hat to them all the same.
Thankfully it does not seem to rain as much here in London as it does in the West Country. When I first moved here I thought I had entered some magical world where rain would only appear at night and cyclists did not drown going a few miles down the road. That’s not to say I have not gotten wet, just that I do not feel the need to wear an all in one cagoule every time I get my bike out.
The point is that the weather changes from week to week here in England and as a cyclist it pays to be prepared for every eventuality. Too many clothes on at the start of your journey and you sweat profusely and need to start stripping off at the side of the road. Too few and it is likely to rain or the temperature will drop considerably.
Now I have never fully embraced the lycra. I do have a couple of pairs of lycra leggings, a pair of shorts and a full length pair with the spongy crotch. I am not, what is called, a Mamil (middle aged man in lycra) even though I am nearing middle age. I will say though that it does have its merits when the wind is bitterly cold out there. It dries pretty quickly, is rather comfortable, and keeps the cold out.
I have no intention of going the whole hog and squeezing into one of those all revealing lycra suits that a lot of cyclists wear. You know the type, they have expensive looking bikes, are thin as a rake, the little clip on shoes that attach to the pedals, and whizz along at terrific speed. I suppose I’m a little jealous, being as if I were to wear something like that, I would look like a sack of potatoes wrapped in cling-film. No, I think I’ll spare the world that vision for now.
Comfort is the key to riding a long way. I prefer to wear shorts but sometimes the weather does not allow this as my knees would fall off. Gloves, though, are the key to surviving the cold and the wet weather. A breathable cycling jacket is the other essential. Without gloves my fingers would have fallen off a long time ago. I have actually seen people cycling in the cold and the wet without gloves. I don’t know how they do it to be honest. It is just crazy. Wind proof, water proof gloves that keep your fingers free from frostbite will make the cycling experience a lot more enjoyable.
A good jacket can be very expensive. I, unfortunately, bought mine very cheap. It does keep out the rain and is good for keeping me warm but only for a short period. It is 100% polyester and heats me up like a microwave after a couple of miles. It is only really useful in extreme cold weather. There are many decent jackets out there on the market and it pays to shop around which is advice I should take myself. Of course all of this will change when we get that summer sun beating down on us (derisory snort). The lycra can be put in storage, the jacket will only get few brief outings, and the gloves will only be needed at night. This is one cyclist who cannot wait for the winter to be filed away for another year. It won’t be too long will it?