This week I got that sinking feeling. It was Thursday morning. I woke up with a sore throat and as I gargled mouthwash in an attempt to burn out the infection – maybe I should have used a single malt – I stared out the window to see only rain-slicked rooftops and remembered how sweet the weather seemed yesterday.
I pride myself on riding in any conditions to and from work (unless it’s iced-over, compacted snow). Any commute is better than enduring the horrors of public transport during rush hour. Riding in sideways sleet or battling freezing winds are far superior uses of energy than being pressed against the sliding door of a train carriage full of commuters.
Cycling to work in the city can be an enriching and entertaining way to travel. A flock of dirty pigeons dissected by your front wheel; a sultry blonde smiling as you try your best to look nonchalant whilst rubbernecking. That song on the radio at home is still in your head but the lights are green again. You easily overtake a postman, look down and you’re in the big ring, bunny-hop a pothole and take the T-junction turn like you’re racing a crit. The van driver waves and smiles – ‘Ladies first’ – and you even have time to stop and get a coffee before the first meeting. If only every day was like that.
The reality is that the journey from Exit A to Destination B can also infuriating and hazardous. You’re late, it’s raining and you haven’t put mudguards on your bike yet. Delivery men with panes of glass keep walking blindly into the road, and someone with a squeaky bike is sitting on your wheel. The woman in the people carrier dropping the kids off at school has no concept of using her mirrors and you don’t see that pothole this time around, no spare tube either. But it’s better than the overcrowded bus or sitting in traffic in your metal box. Always.
So after remembering all this and gargling a bit more, I showered, shaved and donned my all-weather attire, attached my mudguards and rode out into the chaos. I didn’t even notice the rain.
Yes there are numerous other obstacles to overcome when riding in the city sprawl than just the weather. With the right equipment all you need to worry about is the topography of the urban landscape and how it unfolds. So here’s our guide to the perfect all-weather, any-city outfit for the commuter who never leaves the bike at home.