DON’T LISTEN TO KAH, WHAT DOES HE KNOW ABOUT RIDING IN WINTER?
I hate riding in winter, yet every so often I get the urge to go out and ride in the worst cold, wet weather. I’ve given up on ever rounding up co-conspirators on days like these. Have you ever tried to convince someone to go riding when the weather looks like it will shower you in shivery misery? “It’s not that bad” is probably the worst-ever sales pitch. Anyone who hears the line will instantly believe the opposite. A gentle drizzle becomes a thunderstorm in their mind when it is described as “not that bad”.
Riding in winter means you have to give in to the inevitable: embrace wet, shrivelled feet; relax into squishy shorts and periodically squeeze water from your gloves by making a fist; don’t debate endlessly about jacket on or jacket off—pick one state and roll with it, you’re going to get wet regardless.
When you have settled into your immediate misery, then and only then are you ready to assimilate into your surroundings. Splash into the puddles, feel the driving rain trying to peel your skin, put your glasses away. Recite the Velominati rule #9 and lower your cap so you can hunker down into your own little bubble. There’s a fragility when you ride in the wet—rain is not your ally. However, there’s also a gentle sense of gliding along wet roads, the reduction in friction between rubber and tarmac is an inexplicable joy.
Shivering must burn more calories?
If you are a mountain biker, then relinquish the idea of traction and grip. Every element will conspire against you. Nature will try to bring you back into its fold, coating you with mud before bringing you crashing back to earth via a mossy root or slippery rock. As for your drivetrain, fuhgeddaboudit. This is the weather that singlespeeds were made for. Speaking of single, savour the solitude that comes from riding when the clouds roll in. These are beautiful moments.
When you get home, rinse your bike immediately—grime slides right off. Take off your shoes and give youself and your kit a once over with the hose. A more peaceful household can be had if there are just drips of water in the hallway, rather than a muddy trail betraying your path to the shower. The cold water from the hose will feel warmer than the rain and wind anyway.
As your toes tingle in the warm shower, think of all the other warm and comforting things you can settle into now—a hot mug of coffee, cake, or a book. This warmth and comfort is set in sharp relief to the weather you’ve been enjoying outside. You’ll really appreciate the cosiness of warm, dry clothing after putting away your sopping wet gear. Putting your feet up on the comfy couch highlights the pleasant ache in your legs, and you know damned well you’ve earned the piece of cake that goes so well with your coffee. Shivering must burn more calories?
As you sip your beer later while fettling with your bike—making sure the drive train still spins and checking that brake pads will probably last for one or two more wet rides, you will forget the joy that comes from embracing nature in its varied expressions. The desire to ride has to be re-ignited every time. The next time dark clouds threaten and the temperature drops, a little voice will whisper, “it’s not that bad”.