On reflection, it’s an odd time to start a cycling blog. The pro racing season is over, it’s dark on the commute to and from work, the roads are busier than ever and most of all the weather leaves a lot to be desired. If you can navigate your way around the tailbacks, then you still have to contend with the cold and increasing numbers of potholes caused by the constant freezing and thawing of standing water on the road. Even as I type the weatherman is warning of continuing gales of up to 80 mph due to a ‘Weather Bomb’ otherwise known as ‘Explosive Cyclogenesis’. It’s been pummelling the UK for the last few days. It sounds scary but in English it means there’s an area of low pressure, and given that it’s in winter it might be a bit wet and windy outdoors.
Tonight my ride home was pretty dismal. Wind and rain was lashing in my face and in some cruel twist of fate I tackled a head wind for the second time today (normally one would expect riding in to work with a head wind would be rewarded with a tail wind on the return leg, but oh no, not today). By the time I was home I was thoroughly soaked through. As I peeled off my wet clothes I noticed something odd. I had a stupid grin on my face. Yes, today was the day I had clocked 3,000 miles cycled. 6 months ago today, I pledged to change my life for the better. I had just changed jobs (which I was really happy about) but I seemed stuck in the same old routine.
Every day I got up, ate my breakfast, drank my coffee and set off out the door with my car keys. My new commute was only 9 miles but was taking at least 60 minutes, sometimes longer. Most of this time was spent sat stationary in traffic. It was infuriating. Two weeks in I noticed a cyclist wizzing past, clearly he was getting somewhere a lot faster then me! Then it dawned on me, that could be me! Fast forward to the present day, I cycle-commute 5 days a week and get out as often as I can in between. I joined my local cycling club and have tagged along on a few long distance rides to honey pot towns all over Yorkshire. I’ve attended 50+ mile cycling sportives. I’m even due to go and try track racing at Manchester Velodrome this week. Lets say my commute is a lot more stimulating than it was back in June.
So, why should you take up/continue riding this winter? Put simply:
- Unless you do significant motorway miles or work outside regular office hours, you’ll get to where your going faster!
- Riding a bike is significantly cheaper than driving and public transport. I save £120 on petrol alone. If you factor in the reduced wear and tear on your car, you’re saving more. If you lose the car completely, well, you do the maths.
- You’re waist line will thank you this Christmas. Mince pie consumption will be guilt free (mostly) given the amount of calories burnt on the typical ride.
- Riding through the winter has the added benefit of being fitter in the spring, meaning you can make some serious improvements next summer, without having to start building your fitness from scratch.
- There’s no need for a gym membership.
- There’s always more cake to discover. For the uninitiated, cycling is all about stopping for cake (and coffee) in as many different cafés as possible.
- Riding is fun. Period.
- Cyclists tend to have less time off work sick, which means you’ll have to pull a sickie, if you want a day off. I’m pretty sure this is still a positive. I definitely don’t enjoy the lurgy.
- With the right clothing, you don’t feel the cold.
- You’ll develop legs like these!