I worked from home last Winter so missed out on the masochistic fun of commuting by bike. This inevitably caused me to become a bit of a fair-weather pansy, carefully choosing to cycle only when the sun shone. I used to think all those hours of toil, cycling to and from work in the cold, wet and dark months were cumulatively adding to my toughness. But unfortunately this was not the case – just a short time of selective, sunny cycling have been enough to soften me up nicely.
This year I’m back working in the city and have quickly realised that I’m constitutionally unsuitable to sitting in cars in traffic jams. However, not only am I now jointly responsible for ferrying a small person to nursery but also my job sometimes involves travelling distances and carrying materials which are beyond my cycling capabilities. So opportunities to cycling instead of drive are few and far between.
So when a window of opportunity happened to coincide with some nasty weather it was time to ditch the fair-weather approach.
As it turned out, cycling in the rain and in the dark is quite exhilarating. It’s fun but also slightly unnerving. Also, turning up on a construction site and asking the site manager if you can commandeer his meeting room as your own personal laundry drying room also gets a few laughs. The heaters mostly did their trick and I was left with just a few random patches of moistness in my kit for the return home.
This weekend I also headed out to support the Bristol South Cycling Club annual hill climb race up Burrington Combe. We checked out the infamous ‘Cowbell Corner’, the little one bringing her favourite cowbells. It was good to see a few familiar faces including PJ, who having recently published a book on riding hill climbs was now demonstrating how to properly support them.
If you haven’t read his book I’d recommend it for its well-written and thorough coverage of the history of the National Hill Climb Championship. I was enlightened and entertained reading it, and also realised I’m also constitutionally unsuitable for competitive hill climbing – drinking beer, eating cake and riding only in fair weather don’t really seem to be part of the ethos.