“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
There’s no doubt that there are better seasons than winter for cycling: the optimistic emerald brilliance of spring (remember, there were at least three days like that last year I’m almost sure); the long summer days when you can reap the full benefit of your training (or plumb the depths of it’s absence); and the scented crepuscular richness of autumn’s golden days (which are best enjoyed chucking up your intestines on the finish line of a hill climb), to name but three.
Still, when your luck’s in there is a particular pleasure in dodging the bad days, and today’s Centreville social ride was one such lucky day, snuck in under the wire before a week of nasty temperatures and pricipitation. Apart from a flurry of snow on the way out through Cliviger we dodged the ice, sleet and snow that has made cycling over the last month a hit-and-miss affair. There was no ice on the major but scenic roads we chose, and only the first third had a headwind. Both the Long Causeway and Cragg Vale had a gentle tailwind, and how often does that happen? Panoramic views with snow against grey skies and shy shafts of sunlight ensued.
It’s good to see Gary Lake out with us able to ride on the hills again as he gradually recuperates from back trouble, although perhaps there is a fixed amount of back pain apportioned to each UK cycling club, as it seemed to have transferred by osmosis to Pauline. Gary is Centreville’s secret scholar. Ask him one year and he is studying early renaissance art, whereas today in the café he was reluctantly admitting to photography and an evening course in film production. His mum told him learning is for life, and he has taken her at her word. You can tell Gary is getting better, as when a lone cyclist overtook us on Cragg, he requested special dspensation to go after him. It didn’t take him long to catch and drop him. As Gary said, “It’s Centreville. Doesn’t he know who we are?” Not very social Gary, but fun and club dignity was upheld. Adam turned left on Blackstonedge to double the distance and climb by adding the lanes to Slaithwaite on his way home to Hyde.
*Winter rant’s a comin’ in….
Delights of a different kind were experienced at Centreville’s reliability ride no.2 to Gisburn last week, enjoyed with rain and sleet all the way for the satisfaction of getting round a decent ride in testing conditions at a brisk pace. Another pleasure of winter cycling was also in evidence: getting sprayed with road gunk by….dare I say it? Ok I’m gonna: Numpty-Dumbties without mudguards, or even those who have mudguards but not a long enough flap at the back. What’s that about? Not naming any names, (except for Ben in the caption of course, sorry Ben) you know who you are! We even have bespoke club flaps, available from Dan, though I favour a cut down running shoe insole myself.
“But I want to ride my good bike,” I hear you say, “I wear sunglasses to protect my eyes”, “black doesn’t show the dirt, what’s the problem?” All well and good on your own, says I, but when riding in a club group it is only polite not to sneeze, spit, or spray on your mates. I mean, black road slime is bad enough, but when you go past farm-yards the product of cattle’s digestive tract is mixed in. Mmmm yummy, I can see the hit show now: “The Great British Crap Off”
The club Whatsapp thread was funny, reading like an audition for the show, with blokes who had recently implied they had nothing to do with the housework or washing machines coming out in fine style, exchanging tips on stain removal. Excellent.
Let’s face it, grown up cyclists secure enough not to need to look like they are at the Tour at all times use mudguards in the winter. Mudguards and flaps have been good enough for generations of seasoned pros. Train heavy, race light, or to paraphrase John Steinbeck: “What good is the uncluttered, rattle-free lightness of the stripped-down summer bike, without the mudguard faffing of the heavier group-friendly winter bike to give it sweetness?” from The Gripes of Wrath
*a personal view
Why not ride with Centreville? All levels and genders welcome, get in touch to find a ride that suits you