You have to laugh….

Malverns @ -7
That's me. Looks cold eh? There's a reason for that.

… mostly at yourself. Often at your friends. And increasingly at the Met Office PR team who appear to have their credence radar permanently set to “pratfall“.

First we had the BBQ summer which triggered floods not seen since Noah was a lad. Then we had the promise of a mild winter at which point the entire country was transformed into a set for Narnia.  And now this- “2010 is the warmest year since either a) records began or b) 1997 depending on how hard we’ve hit the cosmic fail button

A logical counterpoint would suggest the poor old tea leave diviners have been chronically misrepresented. Firstly the sizzling summer was a 60% probability which is about as statistically significant as a shampoo poll. Then the Arctic conditions of this year were the result of a freakish crashing of hitherto unseen variables, camping out well past any computer model could predict.

And yes this is the warmest year on record. If you look at medians and not specific events. Right now though, I seem to be riding into , through and shiveringly out of such events which is rather fab during, but motivationally crippling before and toe poppingly painful afterward.

Sunday, 7am. -7.4. Five minutes loading the bike and I’m already late. This is mainly due to an unscheduled pet activity; namely defrosting the dog. 7:30 warmed by coffee and central heating, I struck out onto icy roads with the temperature gauge beeping -8 and suggesting the Siberian engine setting.*

No matter. At least the mud shall be temporarily banished under an ice crust. and no other silly bugger is going to be icy toe side of a warm duvet. More right than wrong, but the hills were alive with the sound of nutters’ knee knocking by the time we’d been over half way out and back.

Every trail was rock hard and tho – where foot traffic was negligible – pretty damn grippy. All the time being crunchy under wheel and framed by a child-painted blue horizon. Wales was full of snow and foreboding, but due east was just lightly dusted and crackling. In the middle, we rode on ridge and woody singletrack that felt like summer from the axles down. Above that both Jezz and I were swathed in layers of expensive fabrics and heroic grins.

And rather than our normal “got to get back, got to get back, got promises to keep” approach to Sunday morning rides, we took it easy, took some pictures, stood astride fantastic bicycles feeling pretty damn good to be taking in some altogether more fantastic views.  Lots of climbing, quite a few kilometres, all felt pretty fast which bodes well for when cold and dark becomes difficult and boring.

Normally late January when motivation is in thrall to sofa suck. Which makes the daft nonces who wait until the new year to start winter riding all the more unfathomable.  The Malverns are a tough gig at the best of times, which January absolutely isn’t. Early this year the hills were full of huff and puff, until New Years’ resolutions wilted in the face of not being arsed.

Not us. We’ll be getting up at stupid o’ clock. Stumbling about in the dark cursing at the stupidity of it all. Getting wet, cold and unpleasantly windswept. Chipping off frozen mud because the hosepipe’s been frozen for six weeks. Looking at the confused faces of our dear ones who have all sorts of good reasons why we shouldn’t, and then doing it anyway. And it’ll be good – sometimes great, sometimes averagely ok but always epic – once tyres hit the dirt.

I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating- Mountain biking is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

* I have a photo of that in case you think fibbing for the sake of strutting a heroic stance may be at play here. I can’t show it to you though right now for which explanations may follow. It really depends on whether the embarrassment falls below a level acceptable for public ridicule.

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