Still pondering this car business. Yesterday I had to ride 100 miles to a meeting, with the added responsibility of taking a colleague pillion. It was a bright frosty morning and I wasn’t too worried until, at the last corner before the office, Ruby gave a little shimmy on the ice – anxieties further compounded by the sight of said colleague sliding down the glazed car park with the gusto of a schoolboy (and the balance and grace of Cedric the snowboarding instructor. Git.) Apart from the ice, and the sub-zero temperatures, and the low sun making it impossible to read signs, and the satnav directing me to an entirely different destination, it was a perfect day for a ride – but there weren’t many others braving it, and I did wonder about the madness of piling along the M6, squishy bodies wrapped up in thermals and Kevlar and Goretex, pretending that we were safe. In the evening, it warmed up but bucketed with rain instead, and didn’t stop until lunchtime today, making this morning one of those rides that makes you wish Bob Heath made anti-fog inserts for spectacles as well as visors. Putting my lid on before leaving the house didn’t stop the fog, and I struggled to see the cars in front as well as the colour of the traffic lights. For the first few corners, I thought, maybe I am insane. In London I didn’t ride every day, I got the bus or the tube and rode when it was appropriate. Maybe I need a car to use when the weather is like this. Then I got to the back of the 2-mile queue for the lights, which, despite the requirement for observing the single whites which the council have helpfully put down the middle of the road, was a matter of about 3 minutes work, and then I got to the other big queue at the roundabout where the traffic flows have gone screwy and the cars turning into the minor road manage to halt the dual carriageway – and that queue took about 4 minutes, despite the best efforts of Mr Audi to get in the way. Have some pity on a day like today! I am quite mad enough to get soaked and have a helmet that stinks of highway, so who knows what I might do if thwarted 😉
If I had a car, I would be warm and dry – and still waiting to get across the lights. You buys your Gore-Tex and takes your choice….
PS Tomorrow the forecast is for snow.
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I have been tetchy all weekend thanks to feeling deprived of my Easter trip to the mountains. So when I woke up this morning to see 2 good omens: blue skies, and the windsock on the balcony opposite not about to tear free from its tether, and only one bad one: big puddle of ice on the roof next door, I decided that it would be Highwaylass 1, Weather 0, and got the thermos out of the cupboard. Of course, by the time I’d made my coffee, the view of the windsock was blocked by the falling snow. But I am practising being of stern stuff so I decided to press on regardless. (Not forgetting a hearty upbringing where the traditional cry on a Bank Holiday was, “Get your jumper, we’re going to the beach.”) So, resolute but not reckless, I prepared by adding an extra layer of clothes. Like a Russian doll or an onion, if you peeled off my top layer you’d have found a slightly smaller version of me underneath (this time in furry aquamarine north face top instead of black fleece) and if you’d peeled off that layer you’d have found another smaller me, this time in superwool thermals. Fortunately I have lost sufficient weight since Christmas that there’s room inside my Belstaffs for the extra insulation! – and just for good measure, 2 pairs of socks. Hands I had to trust to the heated grips.
I’ve never ridden in snow before, the only time I nearly had to was when I had a service and MOT booked for the Triumph, and the flakes started drifting as I crossed the North Circular – but Flitwick let me bottle it on account of being a girl. So it was a new experience, and it started off not too bad – small flakes that are a bit more like hail than snow bounce off better than raindrops and don’t make you wet or cold, and as I headed out of London the clouds split and the sun came out. So determination was rewarded….but it was still pretty chilly and I had forgotten that Ipswich exists in some kind of fold in spacetime meaning it takes three times longer to by-pass than it deserves on account of its size, and by the time you get out, your helmet hurts, you’re hungry and in need of some coffee – shelter, warmth and caffeine all admirably provided by the farmcafe on the A12 and their fantastic woodburning stove.
The sun held out as far as the coast (LM 45) but my luck ran out on heading back inland. Big soggy snowflakes may look pretty but they plaster themselves over your visor like a wet white alien facehugger, and the turny-head slipstream trick doesn’t work, so it’s a one-handed swipe every few seconds, leading to cold wet gloves 😦
Of course, none of this is apparent in my RBR photos, as every landmark bagged today was basking in bright chilly sunshine by the time I got there – so I can’t claim extra points or sympathy for hardship endured! Though I do think that nothing makes you appreciate riding into the golden evening sun so much as the previous 20 minutes riding into a blizzard. There’s a book of cheesy biker wisdom in there somewhere…
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