The four horses of the commuting apocalypse…

…Wind, Rain, Dark and Cold. All four horseman were out riding with me this morning as 30 MPH winds first batted me sideways, before settling down and driving cold stinging rain into my face for three long miles. Dark and Cold were in close attendance adding their own brand of misery.

Riding in these conditions sometimes feel like a tax on the stupid. And maybe it is – the seeds of my downfall were planted last night with the abandonment of a resolution to pre-pack the commuting bag ready for morning. The alarm trilled irritatingly as it always does at 6:30am and as normal I flail around wildly trying to cancel it/break it into a thousand small pieces so not to wake my wife. From there on in, things kind of went downhill.

It’s dark. Really proper dark where I live with no streetlights and no close conurbations. But thanks to the miracle of electric light, I’m able to dress in sufficient expensive gear to waterproof a small elephant before heading out into the cold and moistness of a winter’s morning. Today I headed back in a number of occasions for keys, water bottle, work shirt, etc. That’s what happens when laziness overrides common sense leaving me standing uncertainly in the kitchen, head swaying from side to side, trying to remember what I’ve forgotten.

As may be apparent I’m not a morning person. My cognitive functions refuse to operate before daylight creeps over the horizon and they have been fortified by a strong cup of coffee. Their response to any enquiry before such precepts have been fulfilled is to flip a neural “V” sign and suggest consulting the hind brain instead which may be able to help. It didn’t and I had a train to catch so off I went with the fifth horseman – more a pit pony really – “doubt” riding alongside.

The first mile is always horrid in the winter. I’m never warm enough having learnt that being cold for 5 minutes is way better than hot and sweaty for 25. My monster off road Lumicycle light converted for road use illuminates a cone of spitting rain which worms insidiously into non waterproofed crevices. There is some kind of cycling wind shear today battering me from all four points of the compass and the road is slick and slippy from all this rain. I’m pretty miserable as cars pass too close and I can’t help thinking “I’ve got one of those”. They look comfortable in their heated crumple zones oblivious to inclemency outside of their windscreens.

But things improve as they always do. There is a feeling of bloody mindiness and worthyness that drives you on and I’ve downloaded some retro rock tunes onto my MP3 player which add a little cheer to a dreary morning. I cycle on, warmth finally pervades my extremities and I feel fit and healthy.

The station hoves into view after half an hour or so. The bike is starting to look quite shocking and neglected (the former no doubt caused by the latter) and the ticket machine is broken again. But the coffee bar is open, the train is on time and I’ve gone bipolar on endorphins. Surrounded by a flange of miserable commuters huddled tightly in their winter coats, I’m grinning like an idiot and removing layers like a special needs stripper.

Sometimes it’s grim I tell myself but look how much worse it could be !

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