Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Light, warm, dry. Pick one, preferably two.

First early long commute of the year. It was necessity rather than desire - there was no way to train in the evening and I'd already missed a day. Pack everything the night before, pump the tyres, fix the lights. Lay out the tights, the merino, the softshell. Balance the hat and gloves on the radiator.

Read the weather forecast. 3C, wind, drizzle. Ignore it. Set the alarm for half an hour earlier than normal.

Sleep.

Wake.

Do not look out of the window. Do not look out of the window until chamois cream is on, bib shorts in place, heart rate strap tightened. Once the cream and shorts are on, you're either going out or taking an embarrassing shower of shame.

Down the stairs to the hallway, recoiling from the drying sweat dead animal stench coming from the gloves. I really should wash them some time. On with the boots, the toasty comforting Northwave Artics. Boots so good you can forgive the poor spelling in the name.

Open the front door, survey the weather. Rain, real rain. Still, the boots were on. I've never missed a workout once I've got my shoes on. Get out the Kaffenback, fire up the lights, hold down the Garmin switch til I hear the comforting bleep. Garmin is now watching you.

It was light. That was a relief. I don't mind cold and wet, if it's light. I don't mind cold and dark, if it's dry. I don't mind wet and dark, if it's warm. There's probably a joke in there somewhere.

Only Belgians and hardmen like cold, wet and dark.

Of course, once I was riding I felt much better. Rain when you're actually cycling is much better than rain before you cycle - it's rarely that bad. I had mudguards, I had softshell, I had dead-badger-stinking gloves and I had toasty warm boots. I was starting to enjoy myself. There were even signs of Spring - daffodils, snowdrops and squished dead frogs. First ones of the year.

I chugged along. I wasn't fast but I felt awake, rain blasted and wind whipped. An hour and a bit later I turned into the work bike park and locked up the Kaff, stripping it of lights, GPS, bottle and pump. Dripping muddy water I entered the main office building, wishing the giant security guard a cheery good morning. I think I saw him smile at the state of me. Up to where I sit (we don't have personal desks), dumped most of my kit and headed to the next door building to shower.

After the shower I stopped at the restaurant for a bucket of coffee and a bowl of porridge bigger than my own head, with a good half pint of maple syrup. Reward time. Burn 700 kcals on the way in, eat 1000 to refuel.

I always feel a little bit proud when I do the long work commute, a glow of satisfaction. Sure, some people do it every day but I only live 2km from work - the mental strength to go out of my way every day just isn't there yet.

Especially if it's dark, cold and wet.
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