Itâ€™s the talk of the platform; â€œOh hasnâ€™t this winter been mild?”, â€œHah, what do those weather forecasters know? Nothing properly cold about this winter, now back in 76â€¦”. They rub gloved hands and drone on so I tune out.
Yet through gritted and chattering teeth, itâ€™s incumbent on me to make the non PC case against global warming. Having ridden through the dark and cold of our unloved fourth season, let me set you straight: ITâ€™S BEEN BLOODY FREEZING. Iâ€™m sure if youâ€™re entombed in five layers of TopManâ€™s finest polyester and Christmas thermals, itâ€™s distinctly toasty in the waiting room. This is not actually representative of being â€œoutside” where the incessant cold mischievously plays hide and seek with any unprotected body part.
Iâ€™ve been forced to develop a layering system based on the horror depicted by my outside temperature sensor at 6:30am.
5 degrees or above: Assuming no Vietnam flashbacks due to small arms fire on the barn roof (hail or heavy rain), grab any two layers, shorts and go ride.
0-5 degrees. Base Layer, Mid layer, Lined jacket. Buff (thatâ€™s the clothing item not some reflection on my fro gut), winter gloves, Porrells, stiff upper lip and heroic bearing. A spot of Shackleton method acting and strike out with ones helmet at a jaunty angle.
Less than 0. Abandon layering system. Wear everything. Consider exchanging bike for sled and huskyâ€™s.
Thatâ€™s centigrade of course. Fahrenheit is for those gullible fools who honestly believe Esperanto will ever catch on.
Once road-borne, thermometers are ditched in favour of the extensive empirical evidence surrounding my freezing body. Although for the first mile, corpse is a more descriptive adjective as only muscle memory and gortex keeps me moving. Frosty hedgerows sport inappropriate spring bloom and icy windscreens dangerously limit visibility for suicidally lazy drivers. That and the occasional inverted Post Office van – wheels up in a ditch â€“ which always reassures me the temperature has yet to creep over the right side of zero.
There is clearly some kind of unofficial race series taking place in the major postal districts of Aylesbury and itsâ€™ immediate surrounds. In summer theyâ€™re door handling everywhere scattering pedestrians and generally acting in an ambassadorial role for their employers. Come winter, the quest for a personal best lines them up for either awesome van control and peer adulation or an extended spell examining shrubbery from an interesting angle. No wonder stamps are so expensive. Itâ€™s almost like sponsoring my own racing driver â€“ Michael Postmaster perhaps. Okay, perhaps not.
Cold is boring. Hot stuff keeps you going; showers, bacon sandwiches, the latest copy of Hustler- that kind of thing. That and the secret knowledge squirreled away in every riders psycheâ€“ for every cold and pissy winter commute, thereâ€™s a perfect summersâ€™ day waiting only a season away. Call me a seasonal charlatan if you will but itâ€™ll be us creatures of the ice youâ€™re thanking for endless days of sunshine and dusty, dry trails. Pint of lagerâ€™ll be fine. Ta.
Okay, okay just occasionally those impossibly blue mornings make it worthwhile; Swallows on the dawn patrol silhouetted perfectly against a climbing sun and random Mandelbrot patterns iced onto spiders webs. And mainlining lungfulls of – what feels like – air on speed which only climatically freezing conditions can produce,
Those days are great. There just arenâ€™t enough of them.
Roll on proper spring with your rain, wind and storms. Iâ€™ve about had enough of winter.