I have previously talked about the need for correct preparation of your bike and use of layers to keep you warm and dry on your rides, especially as we move from Autumn to Winter riding conditions, but this weekend reminded me that we also need to prepare our psyche.
Sunday morning, October 21st, 7:30am, after a quick cup of tea to bring me around, I looked forward to the promise of a few hours on the bike enjoying the beautiful colours that erupt during Autumn, especially here in Cornwall, with the bracken high on the coastal hills shimmering golds and reds in the low sunshine. Glorious.
I had checked the weather reports the previous evening, light to zero wind, temperatures climbing to a balmy 15 degrees, light clouds and sunhine….based on that my mind shifted to which bibs to wear, which gloves and shoes needed, should I put on overshoes, a gilet or long sleeve jacket….making choices of what to wear is part of the pre-ride ritual for me; get it right and you get an immediate reward as you push off, toes and fingers warm, you are a little cool, but you know that this is temporary and you will be up to temperature in a few minutes simply through your own exhertions as you warm up for the first 5 to 10 minutes.
But getting it wrong can be dire. The first few minutes you are painfully cold, and although you warm up, the extremities remain bloody cold, it isn’t a great experience !
So, back to fickle weather. I open the curtains to see, well nothing much other than a wall of sea mist that rolled in overnight like an ice blanket. Don’t get me wrong, there is something surreal when riding in mist (with strong lights and a high viz jacket), one of my fondest memories is riding across the Scottish highlands near Altnaherra with a low mist embracing the moorland and giving the appearance of rivers running uphill, but this was not the weather I had been expecting.
For a brief moment I thought “sod it”, that’s the ride buggered, but remembering that this is after all Autumn, and so we should expect changeable conditions, my evening preparation only needed to be slightly tweaked to include warmer gloves, a cycling cap and a change to full legged bibs, and I was ready.
How did it go? The first few minutes at 4 degrees was a little cool, but as I climbed out of the valley the mists disappearing behind me, sunshine greeted my cheeks, the road became smooth, the crystal clear air filling my lungs. You can hear every breath on still days such as this, the bike hums and the sounds of gulls soaring high above add layers to the emotion.
I stop at St.Ives, no longer swamped with tourist, but a tranquil haven, the bay stretched out ahead of me. In the distance, home, shrouded in mist like a welcoming embrace. A few more hills and then the descent into the harbour.
Days like this are to be cherished.
Fickly weather ? Bring it on, cycling in Autumn brings it own beauty and surprises, joy jumping in our hearts and our souls stirring with the graciousness of mother nature.
Keep riding, fitness and personal wellbeing beckons those who do.