Winter Cycling in England

January is an unkind month. It reminds us in harsh terms that Christmas is over and that it’s time for work again. Cold winds blow in from all quarters; some with snow, some with rain, some simply cold and so severe that they bite and pick at any open flesh and gouge their way in through all protective clothing. The excesses of recent festivities slow us down in a languid motion that requires control and caffeine – lots of caffeine. And our bike looks us direct in the eye in a challenging way, mocking us into action. 

There is no real fun in starting a ride on a cold and damp January morning, thick with a drizzly mist that constantly washes your face. Yet, these are the best moments, the only moments and opportunities that we have. For any delay now will only prolong the agony and consign us to painful slogs up steep hills in the spring, as friends who fought the symptoms of January woe, dig into the newly developed reserves and leave us for dead.

And so with all these thoughts battling my conscience I select my kit: a good base layer as the final barrier to vicious winds; a warm and breathable jersey to allow my effort to escape, and a light and unrestrictive soft shelled waterproof to hold the biting rain at bay. Compression winter tights finish things off, forcing every last ounce of energy out of lazy legs at the crucial moments that I know will come – and now I’m ready. Light oil is draped across the links of the chain and tyres are tested in a ritual that slows the mind and prepares me for action. Pedals are clipped, cranks are turned, and motion begins - I’m free again, leaving behind the previous hesitance.  

Urban streets become a blur as hedgerows and fields line the way for me, and the sound of nature bounces and reverberates all around me. An alliance is formed with the damp air, cooling and refreshing me, aiding an aching body as I climb hill after hill in a ‘kill or cure’ technique to get bike fit once more. Scenes of meadows and moorlands greet me as a rhythm is reached and I begin to plan rides to come, the places to visit, the hills to climb and to speed down.

A year of cycling now controls my thoughts as I move through the gears and gain momentum. I am a cyclist once more and free to explore. Yes, the first ride of January is never easy, but it always ends up being one of the best. 

Thank you to Robert for sharing this experience with us, making us realise we are not the only ones who struggle with the first rides during the Winter months! Throughout 2016, we will be working with Pedal North as they discover the most beautiful routes across the UK and much more. To find out more about Pedal North, click here!

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