On cycling for 4 hours in the cold

At the weekend we went to visit some friends Up North. This was mostly so my Wonderful Boyfriend could take part an ultramarathon. I have learned that ultramarathons are not really spectator sport, and so this time I was allowed to do my own thing, which seemed to be a good opportunity to go cycling somewhere different.

Our friend sorted me out with a suitable route by the simple method of lending me his GPS navigation device with the route loaded in. I was impressed, all I had to do was follow the red line on the little map on the screen…. what would have happened if I had gone off-route or wanted to shorten it I am not so sure, as I had no idea how to work the thing. I wasn’t going to cycle with him because he would be faster than me, and while Wonderful Boyfriend can be expected to wait for me, it is a bit different when it is Wonderful Boyfriend’s friend. Anyway he decided to just go for a run, thus being out in the cold for less time. So off I went on my own.

It wasn’t actually raining when I set off, but fairly soon it started to snow, and for most of the rest of the ride it either snowed or rained. Sometimes the snow lay as a layer of slush on the road. There was one very fine descent that I came down very, very slowly because it was covered with slush. It was actually a very nice route, along lots of lovely quiet roads, and with some pretty views on the occasions when the weather cleared (at bit). I saw one very miserable-looking Shetland pony, several partridges, lots of very wet sheep, and not many cars (even on the main roads). However after two hours or so my gloves were soaked through and my hands were so cold they started to hurt. I started to daydream about warm, welcoming cafes serving hot chocolate to wet cyclists. Sadly, none appeared, and finally I got back to my starting point, to discover that I was the first person back.

This was the point where I found my hands were so cold I couldn’t undo the clip on my helmet, or the zips on my overshoes (which were quite filthy as some of the roads I’d been along ran past farms and were quite muddy). It took me quite a while to get myself sorted out – and then Wonderful Boyfriend came back to report that running for over 4 hours in those conditions was not much fun either. But our friends’ house is nice and warm, and has hot water for showers and baths, and soon we were warm again.

All good fun, really…

That’s not what people would expect me to say, I think. Yes, I got cold and wet, but one of the privileges of living in the 21st century is that it usually isn’t too difficult to warm up again. There is something pleasurable in being out in difficult weather, and dealing with it. That said, I’m very glad I didn’t get a puncture or other mechanical problem as I would have struggled to repair it and could have got very cold very quickly!

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