I’ve been riding for 12 years and on Friday morning I thought I’d just had the most miserable, joy-starved, frozen and dangerous ride of my Biker’s Dozen. When I woke up I couldn’t see the other side of the street because the freezing fog was in the way. So I waited a bit for the sun to come up (though I’m not sure whether “Sorry I’m late, I wanted to improve my chances of not getting killed on the way by waiting for dawn” is an acceptable excuse anywhere outside of the vampire hunting industry.)
Ruby likes to tell me when it’s cold. I’m really not persuaded it’s that helpful to have 0.0 * flashing once a second while I’m trying to convince myself that because my hands are warm the rest of me follows.
The shockingly poor anti-fog performance of my BMW visor gives me 2 choices – closed (moderately comfortable but steamed up); or open (a freezing 70mph wind compromising visibility by pulling tears from my eyes.) I alternated, relying on skills gained during a lifetime of myopia and my parent’s ban on wearing my glasses during PE to interpret the intentions of misty shapes looming out of the near distance. The motorway had helpfully conspired to put me out of my dilemma by jamming solid and requiring 20 miles of first-gear filtering, which I thought I’d left behind when I left London. It has been quite educational – a few days ago I passed a line of brand-new bin lorries, smelling very fragrantly of rubber and WD-40. On Thursday I spent a little while behind a van promoting Soft Landings for freestyle MX guys, which I could have done with the previous week, and today I was mostly advertised at by a company attempting to winkle team-building corporate types off the clay-pigeon range and onto trail bikes.
I got to work. “That’s your not very impressed face,” said my colleague – clearly I have been wearing it more than once this week! I thawed out a bit, cleaned the evil visor inside and out – it does have an anti-fog coating, it just doesn’t work – and tackled the chores of the day, thinking, well, at least that’s over.
But it wasn’t. The forecasters told me with almost as much glee as Ruby that it was going to be a cold clear day dropping to minus three, so I set off home at dusk thinking, at least I’ll be able to see.
Halfway along the M6 I realise my visor is getting covered by a thin layer of what I can only describe as oily shite. I’m quite used to getting covered in motorway mank when it’s wet – the lorries chuck up spray, the cars in front are liberal with their screenwash – but this is the first time it’s ever happened on a clear, dry (if baltic) night. I have my suspicions that it’s the infamous pre-wetted salt, which is extra-sticky so that it sticks to the tarmac – and passing bikers. I tried scrubbing it off with my glove, but that only moved it around to create a smeary layer of oily shite and an interesting TOTP-style starburst effect. Until they invent helmet-mounted screenwash this is going to be a remarkably unpleasant winter.