Winter Cycling

I managed to stay in last night, thus waking up refreshed and ready to ride this morning. It was a nine o’ clock start, heading off out into the lanes with a group of like-minded fixed wheel cyclists. the weather looked promising, no real rain to speak of, and only a slight dampness to the roads from the overnight rain.

there were a few heavy showers, but the real fun started out in the lanes north of bristol. on at least four occasions the surface water was above bottom bracket height, meaning wet feet, even with neoprene overshoes. i’ve never known it so damp; the ground is saturated and everything that falls from the sky runs-off immediately and accumulates. it made for an entertaining excursion; the masochism of the winter cylist. added to this were the ridiculous number of horses everywhere (replete with fairly mardy riders, despite our generosity and respectful wide berthing) with the ironic exception of the bridlepath (steve’s idea, a muddy quagmire).

at one point we were paced by a derny bike, with an exciteable dog. club-runs like these are absolutely brilliant for seeing unexpected things; there is something fantastic about things being random. the dog seemed so very happy to see us. it made me smile a lot.

the cake stop heralded the sight of an unusual machine; the trike-tandem. can’t be cheap. pretty amazing though with an enormous ovalized and pretty flat tube along the bottom. a George Longstaff.

i regret cleaning my bike yesterday, including the wheels. it now looks like it’s been ridden by an incontinent ebola sufferer through the bog of eternal stench.

stop the clocks

the clocks have gone back, it’s some kind of medieval remnant to the days when small children were needed to milk the cows before school but had no lights or anything, just their flaxen hair to light the way. anyway, digression aside, it’s a bleak time for cycling to work; up until the fateful moment you can just about convince yourself it’s not far from summer, autumn is around, keep those 3/4 length tights going for another day or so. it’s hard to maintain optimism in the face of eternal darkness, slurry-covered roads, manhole covers waiting to lure you to a painful death and the savagery of car drivers who haven’t realised that it’s dark and windy and wet and that they have a dimmer function and that sharing the road is a good thing, rather than a source for vengeance and retribution. nevertheless’ there are a few positives about cycling in winter, i’ll try to list them:

– the sense of masochism acheived from struggling into a headwind and driving rain for one hour, before arriving at work looking like you’ve just yomped from stanley to goose green with eyes that tell of a desire to chop the heads off a few argies with a blunt bayonet

– it’s pitch black so you can’t see the wondrous array of freshly-minted roadkill, instead you get to physically experience it, a tactile and sensory treat as the putrescent carcass of a badger wraps itself around your chainstays

– on certain crisp clear mornings it can feel pretty amazing to both be alive and out on a bicycle, especially when narrowly escaping death from a sleep-addled audi driver

– a particularly bright light is a really useful tool for detaching the retinas of errant, feckless car-drivers, and can cause amusement

my patience this week has been sorely tested, and my willingness to test myself with a full winter’s commute, rather than a halfway train/bike compromise, has already been undermined. i’m going to need some bigger lights, brighter ones. a colleague said to me; ‘wear lots of high viz, get lit up like a gift from the norwegian government to the people of north somerset, that way when you do get killed you’ll know that the guy might go to prison for a few months’. continuing this theme, i was amazed to see a barn owl fly across in front of me on a steep hill, i apologise for the effect my hope vision front light may have had on its ability to hunt and kill and feed itself, but it was a fantastic moment. i recounted this to a friend at work, who replied, ‘ah that’s nice. of course, barn owls are a symbol of death you know, you saw death right there, across your path, i’d be careful if i were you’. which took the shine off it a little. i feel slightly better knowing that she has been struck down with swine ‘flu since our conversation.

90 fixed miles this week @72″

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