Monday 11 November 2013

And Winter Fell

It's 4C, raining, windy, I've been out riding for over two hours, my hands and feet are just starting to chill... and I'm loving it.

Generally, I dislike winter riding. There are exceptions - fresh snow, the odd cold and crisp day - but I spent a whole lot of last winter tucked away in my Pain Cave, battering myself into submission on the turbo trainer.

The Pain Cave isn't a pleasant environment. It's bare, stark, harsh and cold. No-one to distract me, no idle chatter to pass the time, just me, a screen and either Breaking Bad or The Sufferfest. For hours and hours and hours.

For extra suffering I stare at the wall, not the screen
Still, I find this preferable to the British winter. All that drizzle, the grit that gets everywhere, the taste of salt in the air, the crushing inevitability of puncturing whilst slamming into the edge of another water-filled pothole. That's winter to me.

So when I awoke on Saturday, and bounded down the stairs like a Spring lamb on catnip (lambs like catnip too - FACT) to be greeted by my outside thermometer telling me it was cold, the weather forecast telling me it was going to stay cold and the window telling me it was... moist... why did I feel excited? Well, it was a first ride. The first true winter ride.

Every Spring I yearn for the first true shorts and jersey ride. This year it was probably about mid-June given how long it stayed cold for. That makes some kind of sense; riding in the sunshine is glorious. But also, variety comes into it. I get to dig out the white disco slippers, the obscenely tight lycra and the tiny gloves. I get to wear the dark sunglasses. I get to start on my tan lines.

Strangely, this variety had overcome my hate of the winter. New toasty neoprene gloves. My favourite softshell. The winter boots that last year, finally, kept my feet warm after many years of icy toes. I revelled in the act of dressing - shorts, tights, merino base, woolly socks, boots, softshell, hat, gloves, helmet, glasses. I choose my bike with glee - the Kaffenback, the heavy steel mudguarded tank. I met the wind and the rain head on, screaming defiance.

At one point, about 90 minutes into the ride, I found myself grinning as I rode. I think I scared some drivers. I certainly surprised some other cyclists as I met their misery with my joy. My mind was full of food thoughts as I pondered what I could eat for recovery. Hot rice pudding? Porridge? Toasted malt loaf? Tea? Coffee? Thick hot chocolate? I don't do that in the summer.

At home I peeled off my sodden outerwear and hung my trophies on the radiator to dry.

I showered, ate (porridge!) and stretched, content in the warm glow of a ride well done.

Well, that's my winter fun over for another year. Back to the misery.

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