Friday, March 3

Winter cycling - a bit late!

I can't believe it's March already, and I haven't yet written my "Winter Cycling" post...... possibly the following explains why:

Early February - down to Devon to help look after new granddaughter (while Marines daddy is away) for 11 days.
Back home for 3.
Back down for 3.

All these 3 journeys by train - I love going on the train but don't often have reason to. I got quite excited while waiting at Swindon and hearing them announce the arrival of the "Devon Express"! The first time I went down, as we approached Exmouth I was looking out of one side of the train and then turned to the other side and thought - oh!! there's the sea! I haven't seen it for some time. I took a book with me called Slow Travel by Dan Kieran which I read in quiet moments over the 11 days.

Back home then with car packed to the hilt with me, daughter, 4 week old baby - and Molly the cocker spaniel in the boot! The journey went well, with one stop at Gordano services to feed baby, walk dog, and top up with refreshments. I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally reached our other daughter's in Wantage, where mother and baby stayed for 4 days before coming here. Original plans for daughter and baby (and Molly the dog - who has gone on holiday in a nearby village) to stay elsewhere had fallen through, hence them coming here.

And here is the cause of the blog post delay! Lovely baby Emmie, sozzled after a feed! One bundle of cuddliness........

Her 14 month old cousin Lily loves her, and is learning to be gentle with her.

So - the winter cycling!

This winter I was aiming to try to keep cycling throughout the winter, and I have indeed managed it, although to be honest the weather has not been particularly wintery.  The coldest day I cycled was actually on January 21st, when it was frosty to start with but then lovely and sunny. What with one thing and another happening most of my riding has just been the usual shopping trips, of 8 or 9 miles, but I also managed to add extra miles onto these trips sometimes, increasing them to perhaps 15 miles, and also a couple of jaunts of 20 miles or so. Although the miles only added up to 109.4 (very important that point 4!) compared to last January when I didn't cycle once that is a massive improvement!

What one wears when cycling in the winter is a good topic for discussion. Like many other cyclists I don't believe that you necessarily need special clothing for cycling, but sometimes the right garment helps immensely. I think the two most valuable items for me are merino wool long sleeved tops underneath everything, and my Primaloft jacket - I was going to put a link to mine, which is made by Vulpine, but I am flabberghasted to see that they aren't doing them anymore. Oh well, other makes are available..... This jacket was expensive but it was money well spent. Under this jacket, and over the merino top, I wear any old thing. My fleece lined Buff keeps my neck lovely and toasty.

Legwear is either Craghopper trousers or my favourite altered-to-fit-me charity shop jeans that have plenty of stretch in them. Either of these are fine for the length of rides I've been doing, but I did think that maybe cycling tights might be more comfortable for longer rides, and I bought a pair of these Altura Women's Cruisers choosing them for their price and the fact that they didn't look too tight. I haven't had a chance to try them out yet - I'll try and remember to report back when I have.

I don't have any problems with my body and feet staying warm (Husband gets cold feet when cycling) but another thing I knew I'd need for the winter would be good gloves. I bought these Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gel gloves. I actually got men's ones, and in a medium, and I still find the thumbs a bit short! And no I haven't got huge hands, just longish fingers perhaps. I bought these gloves on the recommendation of my cycling Elder Son, who wears his with a pair of merino liners underneath when the weather is extremely cold. Verdict? I couldn't have kept cycling in the winter without them, as my other Bontrager lighter weight ones wouldn't have been warm enough. However, I did find that on that coldest ride in January my fingers were pretty cold for the first few miles of the ride, until the sun came out. Temperatures that day were probably just above freezing. Comfort wise they are great.

Several weeks ago I noticed that I was getting discomfort with the gripshift on my bike, and I asked Husband to have a look at it, as I thought it was just stiff. He did, and lubricated here and there, and it was slightly better. However I think it's me that's got the problem. I've noticed slight discomfort in the joint that's involved when I turn the shifter towards me. Because of this I want to change the shifters to the rapidfire type, which should solve the problem.

I have entered my first sportive! It's the Childrey Spring Classic and I am going to do the 30 mile ride. I'm looking forward to the bacon rolls afterwards. I know some of the people who have also entered, but they will be doing the 60 mile trip. When they see me they'll probably think "Eh? what's she doing here, on that heavy bike, in those ordinary clothes, and her being a grandmother and all.....". I'll show 'em.......!!!!

Here's my bike loaded up with shopping a while ago, and charity shop curtains on the back rack.

Happy cycling! The days are getting longer - hurrah!