Park & Pause

Sitting in my warm car in a dark and deserted car park at 6:28am with the wind and freezing rain whipping all around me, I did allow myself a brief hesitation before venturing out to set up the bike. I was 2 minutes ahead of my usual schedule so justified this moment of weakness as a small reward for my timekeeping.

Open door just to check whether the weather is as bad as the rain on the windscreen and temperature on the dashboard indicate

Open door just to check whether the weather is as bad as implied by the rain on the windscreen and temperature on the dashboard

This is the problem with working 40 miles away from home – it isn’t really practical to cycle the whole distance. With the exception of a few occasions in the middle of summer when I cycled all the way, I have only been able to make it work by driving halfway and cycling the rest. However, driving towards work in foul weather seems to provide more of a psychological challenge than just heading out on the bike from the front door. “I could just carry on and drive the whole way” seems to be the negative mantra repeating inside my head on days like today. Fortunately a love of cycling seems to be more powerful than an aversion to bad weather and I endured the second leg of my journey out in the elements of nature, but more with satisfaction than pleasure.

The start of my cycle is through the city of Bath, largely asleep at that time of day. Other than bin lorries and construction vans, the only other obstacles are the potholes which seem to be far more frequent than on roads outside the city. However the big benefit of riding through the city and suburbs is the street lighting. I have a decent enough set of lights on my bike but still prefer the greater visibility provided by street lighting. Currently daylight is arriving midway through my ride out on the back lanes of Wiltshire, but in a few more weeks I’ll be relying on bike lights to guide me along this part of my journey.

Cyclepath following haphazard strimming of overgrowing weeds

Cyclepath following some haphazard strimming of the overgrowing weeds

I took the last part of my journey into work along the cycle path which we built a few months ago. It has settled into its surroundings and seems to be getting good use. And thanks to the small adjustments we made to keep it back from the road it also seems to have avoided any damage from a recent hit-and-run car which crashed through our fence, signage and tree saplings, leaving behind part of its undercarriage and bumper which should at least make some decent evidence along with the CCTV footage.

More of the same

“Another very cold day with biting easterly winds” was how the weather was forecast today. It wasn’t wrong. I also woke with a biting headache after a Saturday night out with an old friend, so today’s ride was not a long affair. Getting kitted up in an uncomfortable mass of clothing and heading out into the freezing and windy conditions banished my hangover but didn’t feel like it was doing much for my fitness or cycling.

I had taken the favoured bike in for an annual service last week. It needed a new chain, cassette and cables. While I’m happy to bodge the maintenance of my commuter bike, I prefer to trust this one to the experts. Despite the nasty weather, it was dry today so I decided to test out its new equipment.

New equipment

New equipment

I left the bike waiting on the door step while I contemplated chickening out

I left the bike waiting on the door step while trying to think of a good reason not to go out

There’s not much to say about the ride. It was slow and really hard work. I did a half hour loop of the lake and then climbed up onto the hills for an hour of cycling in the wind.

The sheep didn't seem too worried about the weather

The sheep didn’t seem too worried about the weather

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My fingers froze again through the thickest gloves

My fingers froze again through the thickest gloves

At the end of 90 minutes fighting and ready for a nice hot cup of tea. Roll on Spring ...

At the end of 90 minutes fighting and ready for a nice hot cup of tea. Roll on Spring