As day turns to night, winter is within touching distance. Like the tick of an old grandfather clock, it will not be stopped. Inevitable changes in landscape, temperature and light are an ever evolving presence, changeable day by day.
On the 21st December, where daylight hours are at their shortest, the winter solstice begins and the long journey to spring starts to take shape. We have been blessed by the dry and sun soaked autumn that has given those who rode through it so much. Dry roads, warm days and stunning sun sets. But the journey does not need to end there…
A true convert to the winter season, I ask those who are not, to just consider for a moment my bias. If only as a motion to provoke a change of heart. After all, it was once said by post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, “what would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Which was a quote taken prior to removing his own ear with a scalpel!
I will set the scene in an attempt to fuel your imagination. A crisp morning, slightly overcast with the sun slowly rising in hope of burning the cloud away. Mist upon the open fields and the winding roads that encircle them like arteries. The tyres of your bike hum on the asphalt as your only companion. The core of your body starts to heat, with a warmth that only physical effort can give.
The tip of your nose and lobe of your ear nip in the chill as your breath breaks the air. As long as the bike moves, the fire burns and the engine roars. The destination is all part of the process, metre by metre, turn of pedal by turn of pedal the objective becomes clear. That village Café, full of cake and coffee is your retreat. Doing something that others are not willing to do is your solace.
There is a point to the two paragraphs above. Autumn blending into winter is beyond description. Full of colour, shapes and nature taking its course. A sight that can be seen at best upon a bike, where being self powered allows your senses take in every element.
The only crime committed in Winter is letting the season slip by without experiencing what it has to offer. The first steps are the hardest, but I promise winter is not the terror of cycling discussed by many. Once bitten you will be among the converted. A truly wonderful season, not to be missed through fear.
As a caveat, and I hope it goes without saying. Safety is first. Especially when riding on road tyres, ice and snow are conditionally a no no. However, the average UK temperature for December, January and February are hovering at 7 degrees celsius, which is nothing that a pair of winter tights and Belgian hat cannot contend with. There is beauty in the bleak and heroism of taking on the elements. I urge you to give it a try.
My three bits of advice for the winter season. Fit some mud guards, wear layers and if you get cold ! Pedal harder… Safe Riding. ColVelo.