Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Freezing cold but we head for the Tatsfield Bus Stop

Sunday 14th December: When I woke up around 0600hrs on Sunday morning listening to the BBC Radio Four programme Something Understood, which this week was all about world weariness, I must admit that I had some sympathy for those who might be suffering from the condition. I felt a little weary myself and I was certainly considering an 'abort' text as soon as I glimpsed the outside world. Below me, illuminated by the new, ultra-powerful street lights that had been recently installed (and now cast a huge, lunar light over vast tracts of the road that were previously in darkness) I could see the frosted road and path and countless cars (excluding mine) covered in ice.

Fortunately, my car was garaged and, therefore, not in line for a windscreen scraping later in the day, but I'd need to get the car out of the garage first to reach my bike. However, my first thought was this: I wonder if Andy really feels like going this morning or whether I might be able to tempt him to abort by suggesting it's a little bit on the chilly side? It was worth a try and then I might be able to return to bed and listen to what Mark Tully had to say about world weariness.

My flap hat and balaclava combo kept me warm
Andy's response was short and to the point: "We've seen it before. I'm up for it." And, of course, he was right. We had seen it before and I should pull myself together. "Balaclava it is, then. See u usual time," I responded and set about finding the aforementioned woolly head garment.

Last night on Saturday Night with Jonathan Ross, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, talked about how it hadn't been scientifically proven that crash helmets for cyclists were essential items of safety equipment. In other words, you're not likely to be at any greater risk if you don't wear one. Fair enough, I thought, deciding that drastic weather called for drastic life or death decisions. Instead of the crash helmet I would wear a fetching combo of my ear flap hat from Millets and the green, IRA terrorist balaclava. It might look stupid – and could even get me arrested – but it would certainly fend off the cold.

In fact, when I reached the green, the police were already there. The Nat West bank had been robbed overnight and for a moment I feared the police might blame the caper on me based purely on my rather suspicious-looking appearance. And who would blame them?  My rucksack, they might figure, could be stuffed full of used banknotes. Fortunately, they didn't think anything of the sort and had they searched me they would have found nothing but a flask of hot water, four teabags and a few spanners.

Twenty minutes earlier, when I hit the outside world my theory about the cold weather was proved right. I didn't feel the cold at all. I took the car out of the garage, retrieved my bike, put the car back in the garage and then, with front and rear lights blazing (the rear lights had worked all along. I just thought the batteries had run out – they hadn't) I rode towards the usual meeting place where Andy (and the police) were waiting. But fortunately for me, the police weren't interested. They never even noticed me (and my rucksack full of fivers).

I was so warm I could have cycled all the way to Westerham and back, but we settled for the fast way to the bus stop having ruled out the slow way due to the cold. Andy complained about cold feet and ears, but I can honestly say that I was untouchable. I felt great! And a little smug. The weather hadn't beaten me, although I did feel a little guilty about my earlier text. Mark Tully and world weariness would have to wait.

We eventually reached the bus stop where Andy broke out the Belvita biscuits and I poured the tea. After our usual chit chat, we rode back to the green, bade each other farewell and headed towards our respective homes.

The pond on Sanderstead green had frozen over
Another good reason for riding out today was that it was likely to be our last ride this side of Christmas, although we're hoping that our traditional Boxing Day ride will take place.

I'm thinking about inviting Phil, but he's already made it clear that the cold weather is not his bag. I can't remember the last time we saw him on a ride and I doubt we'll see him again until something like March 2015 – weather permitting.

Either way, he'll receive an invite and, as usual, the festive fayre at the other end (the Tatsfield Churchyard has been mooted) will be Christmas Cake, courtesy of my mum and the usual tea and biscuits.

Until then, I wish all NoVisibleLycra readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Hopefully, we'll be back in the saddle on Boxing Day.

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