Insert hilarious trumping gag here. On second thoughts, don’t bother.
Ah autumn; the gentle caress of nature’s breeze playfully cascading golden leaves and frolicking softly amongst seasonal flowers. Is that the kind of thing I’m talking about? An emphatic no I’m afraid considering the storm-light accosting me this morning wasn’t so much a head wind as a head, body, leg and possibly toe wind. Accompanied by a light rain and the promise of chilly extremities later.
It’s not the cold limbs that are the real problem though; it’s the level of faff that Autumn and Winter bring. The joy or riding is tainted by the chore of preparation “ no more jump on the bike and go, now it’s all layered process and forgetfulness.
First up is the Big Yellow Jacket. A stout garment so stoic in repelling wind, rain, snow and, if required, borders, it should come with a stiff upper lip. Counterbalanced by a complex layering system elsewhere that can be simply summarised as the rest of my riding wardrobe
If this homage to the Michelin blimp wasn’t sufficient, further weight is added to the bike through a high power Lumicycle halogen powered by a well grouted bottle mounted battery. It’s light in almost every respect except for weight adding over a pound to my already encumbered form.
Added to this are rear lights, backup lights and spare backup lights. A final chapter to this book of paranoid is a second backup set on the helmet. This may seem somewhat overkill but having run the gauntlet of a six mile lightless commute, riding mostly in ditches to escape the main beam of passing cars, it’s not something I ever want to try again. It’s unlikely I’d live through the experience twice.
Mudguards would add efficacy, at the expense of only a little weight, in the area of a dry bike and arse. However, so aesthetically troubling to the eye are these innocent metallic strips, I’ve opted for dirty bike and damp smalls. A decision I’ll probably need to review if a combination of dark and wet leads to a troubling fungal growth.
When you do finally get going, the summer urge to chase the big unicycle across the sky inevitably wanes. Instead, you’re fogged in, fogged up and other phrases that sound a bit like fogged mooching about at¾ speed and shifting uncomfortably under the weight of a leaden sky.
The fair weather riders have long since packed away their summer steeds and from the outbreak of Yellow Jacket Fever on the streets of London, those who remain have shopped exclusively at RonHill and Aldi. Less bikes means the odds of being taken out in a violent and bloody manner by motorised bike killers increase sharply. And if they don’t get you, the wet gripless tarmac probably will.
It’s all a bit dull really, except for tailwinds. Tonight, I stopped being a rider and stated being a sail. The gusting northerly catapulted me unpedalling up hills as recently orphaned leaves threw themselves under speeding tyres. The ride home officially rocked like a hurricane when passing a long line of brake lights snarled up at a busy junction.
And there are other upsides – it’s only 25 days before the Winter Solstice and riding a bike means I’m not listening to the Ashes Cricket. Okay we have the whole cold and wet winter to come and it won’t get properly light for another four months and the bikes will catastrophically succumb to the over-salted roads and and and ¦¦.
So here’s a cheerful number to finish, only 102 days to Spring and yes, I am counting.