There’s a million articles telling us about the gear that’s needed to get through a winter on two wheels – but there’s more to it than gloves and mudguards.
Cycling in winter is not for everyone – the roads are dark and slippy, your toes and fingers are cold and the hassle of maintaining a bike that’s ridden twice a day through wind, rain and snow becomes a challenge of epic proportions.
But while much of the advice suggests super-waterproof jackets, pricey deep-winter gloves, and hats and tights and socks and shoes that would serve you well at the North Pole, there’s a more important ingredient needed – a love of the wild.
There’s something brutally honest about cycling through winter conditions – it awakens the spirit of adventure in us, opens our minds, all be it briefly, to the hardship of human suffering. In those brief moments, when your cheeks are stinging from the freezing rain, when you’re leaning into a ferocious crosswind fighting to remain upright, you feel alive.
In such moments, senses are heightened. The sound of the wind in the trees, the clicks and whirrs of your bike, the brief snapshots of scenery as you fight through the storm are logged and absorbed in a very different way to how they are in summer.
Summer is pleasant and accommodating and allows you to enjoy the ride and take in the scenery in your own time. In winter, you must fight for everything.
The key to cycling in winter, therefore, is simply to enjoy it. You must embrace the sleet and the snow, laugh in the face of freezing fog and cycle through snowstorms with a smile. Riding into a relentless gale shouldn’t be a chore, but a pleasure – after all, the effort of fighting a headwind will be paid back with interest when the wind eventually hits your back.
So, next time you’re thinking of taking the train or jumping in the car, stop and go and dance to the howling wind instead.
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