Wednesday, 7 May 2008

(Everywhere You Go) You Always Take The Weather

Don’t get me wrong, I love cycling. I spend six months from October to March travelling to work by bus and am always glad when it gets light enough to start cycling again (although the cold of winter is a factor the main thing that stops me is the safety factor – car drivers will happily kill you to shave 30 seconds off their journey and in the dark mornings/evenings things are far worse), but I do wish the weather would make its mind up.

As anyone who has to get up early to go to work knows you have to make A Choice (note capital letters)

When you leave your humble abode in the morning it is often still dark and cold – so you put on your big winter jacket and walk to the bus, or in my case pull on your winter leggings and start peddling.

And for the first 20 minutes or so of your journey everything is just hunky dory. Then Mr Sun (or Mrs, depending on which side of the equator you live) comes up and suddenly you’re sweating to death. OK – so you may just make it to work before this happens, but this is when you are faced with your Big Problem (again with the capital letters)

Because when you travel home, still wearing your Michelin-man, anti-frostbite Thermal Jacket, sitting on the bus next to lots of people in t-shirts you are going to a) sweat like a pig and b) look like a complete idiot.

Everyone will be looking at the nutter in the big jacket and wondering why you are dressed so strangely.

The problem with cycling is slightly different – in that all the winter clothes you were wearing this morning now have to be stored somewhere for the journey back. I’m quite lucky at work – I have 3 showers on site to chose from and two lockers – in which I store a pair of shoes; but my work clothes, shower kit and towel all have to be transported back daily – which leads to feeling like you have a ton of bricks on your back/bike. Of course the day you decide to leave your jacket at home is the day you get an epic storm on the scale of Twister or The Perfect Storm. Believe me – I’ve been caught 10 miles from home in hailstones in the middle of June and it’s not fun. If you don’t believe me get a bag of ice cubes and try repeatedly throwing them in your face for 30 minutes. Then do it again whilst running on the spot.

So inevitably I end up leaving the house every morning looking like Nanook Of The North and returning like some beach-crazed tourist in Ibiza.

One solution, for both methods of travel, is to carry a bag that is big enough to hold your folded jacket. This does add to your weight and slows you down – but again comes with problems because most “Water Proof” bags are nothing of the sort and wouldn’t stop a determined cat from soaking the contents with spit, let alone a full-blown downpour. This is not a problem if it rains on the way home, as you can put everything on a radiator – but working all day in the knowledge that you have to put wet kit back on is nothing short of horrible.

Still, I’m looking forward to the summer when it is my intention to start doing some serious riding at the weekends, when I don’t have to worry about taking a change of clothes. Hopefully I will bring you a report of my favourite cycle route – a 40 mile run with a hill that just keeps on going. Lovely.


Honour said...

Ah, see - us people in public health - we see public health in everything. Did you know that when there are showers at work, proper bike facilities and lockers - the number of people who bike to work goes up significantly??? It's all about the environment isn't it??

Liked your posting. I used those bike bags that I hang over the rim of my rear bike wheel and that worked ... though - true - it never did rain on the way TO work. Just home. But then I changed jobs, and I no longer could bike to work (too far and dangerous neighborhood!). I'm jealous you get to ride to work. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

My biking days ended long ago, and it was for recreation, not travel.

And even the recreation wasn't just for traveling and enjoying the weather, it was to go to curbs and hills to do tricks on.

Jenny said...

The weather can indeed be tricky. It can change completly in just a few minutes. Always best to be prepared, for the worst.

I can imagine how horrible it must be cycling in hailstones. Just walking in hailstones is terrible enough.:S

It's lovely going cycling, especially for longer rides, alongside the lake and forest, during the summer. =)