Sunday, 12 February 2012

Out in the snow...

Andy on the roadside on the approach to Tatsfield churchyard.
I was up at 6am this morning and when I looked out of the window it looked pretty cold. The cars were frosted up, there was still snow on the ground and it looked nasty: not the sort of weather to be cycling in, I thought, pointlessly, as I recalled sending an OK text to Andy about a Sunday morning ride. But I was prepared. The tea was made, I was dressed in many layers and when I went outside to fetch the bike I found myself thinking, 'what's all the fuss about, it's not that cold'.

Cycling up the road, however, things changed. It started to snow. Only very finely, but it was snowing and as I reached the top of Church Hill it was quite heavy snow and it was laying. By the time I reached the Green I was wondering when Andy would call with an abort text, but nothing came my way and then, having been on the Green for about four minutes, he turned up.

The snow continued to fall as we made our way past Knight's Garden Centre and the temperature had dropped too. My feet (and other extremities) were frozen and we were surprised to see a couple of other cyclists out on the road - only the hardened few get up and go out in this sort of weather. Or perhaps that should read 'only the real idiots go out in this sort of weather'. And, to be fair, we were a couple of idiots, but, in a strange sort of way, we were both very happy to be out in the snow. It doesn't matter if you're wrapped up well - and we both were.
Yours truly, carrying his bike in the Tatsfield churchyard.

My only mistake was putting on a pair of old Doctor Marten shoes, purchased in Portland, Oregon, in 2007, when I had a perfectly decent pair of walking boots in the porch. To be fair, apart from the shoes making my feet much colder than they would otherwise have been in the boots, the only real problem they presented me with was walking when we finally reached the Tatsfield Churchyard - a foolish venue choice as there's no cover and the seats would be covered in snow and ice.

Remember that Doctor Marten shoes have smooth soles - not ideal for snow or ice. It took me four times as long to walk from the churchyard gate to our benches than it took Andy, but fortunately I had the bike to keep me upright.

We munched our cereal bars and drank our tea, standing up for two reasons - one, there were no benches on which to sit; and two, to improve the circulation in our feet. Had the church been open, we'd have gone inside, but it was locked so we loitered about and then it started to snow again.

Around 9am we headed back home and, to be fair, it was very pleasant. Cold, yes, but it was an invigorating ride and we both felt better for going and not sitting around in the house feeling smug that we were warm when it was cold and unforgiving outside.

There's something very nice and evocative about snowy landscapes and Andy managed to get a few shots (as you can see). It took me back to the early days of our cycling when we went a bit mad on going our regardless of the weather. On the way back there were virtual white-out conditions, but we were kitted out in warm clothing (apart from those DMs) and that made it pleasant.

Andy took this shot of the landscape with yours truly in the foreground.
I won't say that I wasn't pleased to reach home. My bits were frozen solid and my feet needed a bit of flexing. Right now, as I write this, I've recovered.

One last point, it was the first time we went out when it was snowing before we mounted our bikes. Normally, we'd have aborted, but we went for it; every other time, we'd been caught in the poor weather.


  1. another great post. You guys dont use clip in pedals and shoes? I do, they take a Whilte to get used to but the shoes I have have soles like a solid hiking boot. perfect for slippery conditions.

  2. Looks like a nice ride Matthew. The reward of warming up AFTER a cold ride is much greater than staying in and maintaining warmth. It's been such a mild winter here that I have hardly been stressed. Hey, I was watching VH1 Classic and caught the Rewind Festival. Loads of cool 80s music. Billy Ocean was so cool! Is that anywhere near your location? Later!