Tag Archives: winter

Dear Summer, I’m sorry.

Dear Summer,

I’m sorry.

I made a terrible mistake. Winter will never come close to what we had.

She promised me the world, Summer. She said there would be crisp, bright mornings and beautiful tyre trails in crunchy, frozen grass. She said we would see our breath in the cold, clear air. Bright blue skies would cover us, she said. She promised carpets of snowdrops, chirping robins, snuffling hedgehogs. The sound of dry twigs cracking underfoot.

Her promises were empty, Summer. She took everything I had and gave me nothing in return. It has felt like a constant battle against the elements, and my body is weary. We had a fleeting moment in the sun – and then it was over – replaced with black clouds. It has been dark for so long, but I never forgot your sunshine, even in the darkest moments.

Her embrace offers me no comfort. I avoid her, hiding inside. Making excuses. Lies and deceit. A bitter atmosphere lingers and seems like it will never leave.

Even the taste of water is better with you, Summer.

I long for long days with you again. For sunshine spilling through windows in the morning. For coffee on my doorstep, and beer in the garden. For scorching tarmac and dry, dusty paths. For salty skin and beads of sweat. For little patches of cool under trees. For short sleeves and smooth legs. For cold showers and open windows blowing curtains.

My heart is breaking for you, Summer. Please take me back.

x

Daughter, ‘Winter’: YouTube

 

Big hill, little hill, cardboard Box.

On Thursday my good friend Gill and I drove up to Horsham, our bikes snuggled up together in the boot of the car, to meet some more cyclist friends and head off for a ride in the Surrey hills. I’d taken a day off work to go riding, as the weather at the start of the week had been so beautiful. Of course by Thursday it was bitterly cold again – who knew you could get brain freeze from anything other than a Slush Puppy?

The lovely Jason had planned some “nice hills” for our ride. I’ve learnt by now that when someone tells you a ride is ‘undulating’ what they actually mean is ‘really f***ing hilly’. Plus, Surrey isn’t famed for being flat, so I was prepared for the worst.

Click for full size

As usual I’d got myself worked up over nothing. Yes – there were hills, but that’s what I’ve got a bike for, right? Spin the pedals, turn the wheels…up you go.

Despite not being able to feel our fingers and toes after a few minutes of riding, we managed 3 and a half hours in the saddle: including the hideously steep Whitedown hill and iconic Box Hill.

Olympic Road Race messages

I’d only ever seen Box hill on the TV, during the Olympics. It’s a lovely climb – at least it is when you’re doing it once, not 9 times (or however many laps it was they had to do)…and then back down again. I’ll certainly be back there when the weather has warmed up – although I expect every other lycra-clad human in Surrey will have the same idea. I should probably purchase some Rapha…

Looking over Box Hill

I should take days off to ride my bike more often.

It rains less in my lounge.

After riding in the snow and rain recently, I can safely say I’m fed up of Winter. It didn’t take much; I’m definitely a bit of a wimp when it comes to the weather.

However – I’ve found a way to counter this. I have bought a turbo trainer. I figure that training on it will be so sufferingly hard that I’ll soon change my mind and get back out in the rain for some light relief.

Wet, muddy and COLD this weekend

Up until now my only indoor training has been using the MyRide bikes at the gym to do intervals. They’re better than standard ‘exercise bikes’ – with a slim saddle and drop handlebars – but it is still not quite like riding a real bike. I’ve previously put off buying a turbo or rollers because I live in a flat with downstairs neighbours who won’t appreciate the noise (they don’t like it when we play that PlayStation dance game…) Anyway, I’m just going to have to time my training with when they are out. There are also plans for some team turbo sessions which will be a laugh I’m sure. I bet I can win the prize for Sweatiest Jersey.

Lastly, while we are on the subject of turbo trainers, check out this completely mad idea: training with a live band. I’ll do my best to get along to that, if nothing else I think it will make for an amusing write-up!

Bye for now, I’m off to sweat a bucket or two…

Winter fields

Back before the snow had melted I was listening to Bat for Lashes’ album The Haunted Man and was particularly taken by the lyrics to Winter Fields; a song that talks about Sussex. That same day I stumbled upon some photos by cyclist, photographer and friend Gavin Peacock. He’d braved the Sussex snow on his bike with a camera, and the result was beautiful. So I wanted to share both with you here.

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Hurtling through heavy snow, our hands are cold and the moon sets low
Little sister let your sharp teeth show, pass winter fields
Stop the car by the old wire post, skidding rabbits make good paper ghosts
They lick the salt off the Sussex coast and fall into winter fields

‘looking to the long man’

Rows of White, Spelled our escape in the old torch light
Oh Mother, I’m scared to close my eyes
In some winter dreams will make you dive and dive and dive down

In sub zero I can’t stand still, colors of absence flooding the hill
In wonderment I trip and spill through winter fields
Under the stairs taps the metronome, a diver suit that we’ve all outgrown
I need to get to where the wild things roam through all of my winter dreams

‘weald view’

Rows of white, spelled our escaped in the old torch light
Oh mother, I’m scared to close my eyes
Some winter dreams will make you dive and dive and dive down

‘ditchling beacon’

Photos by (and copyrighted to) Gavin Peacock

The full set is viewable here: ‘A Year In Sussex’

Lyrics:  Winter Fields, Bat for Lashes

Sunshine and sandwiches.

In wonderful contrast to the snow, sleet and rain that we’ve had our share of recently, this weekend saw some Winter sunshine for Sussex.

On Saturday I made the most of the weather and got out on my own for a few hours in the saddle. Having spent a fair amount of time of late spinning on a bike in a gym, it was lovely just to get out and RIDE. The downs were still dusted with icing-sugar snow – but it was nearly all melted from the roads. The beautiful views almost made Devil’s Dyke enjoyable. At the top I found myself grinning, and remembering that this is why I fell in love with riding a bike in the first place.

Edburton Road on Saturday

Melted snow & the previous day’s rain on Underhill Lane.

Sunday was a team ride, and being totally honest – I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’m still a bit nervous about cycling in a group, even though the guys in the team are great and I’m getting to know everyone. What if I fall off and look like a plonker…what if I get left behind on a hill…what if…SHHH Lois, get on with it woman, you’ll be fine.

And I was.

Clearly my bonking crisis on the last team ride made an impression, as I ended up with homemade flapjacks & sandwiches from Matt, and homemade bread pudding from John, all stuffed into my jersey pockets. If that’s not team spirit then I don’t know what is! I felt a little over-laden with essentially a packed lunch on my back, but 71 miles later – and only half a (very squashed) sandwich left, I was very grateful for my snack-filled pockets.

Breakfast. Not to be underestimated!

I won’t go through the route, because that will get boring, and you can see the map at the bottom of this post. What I will say is that apart from a few idiot drivers nearly hitting us, and one hill up to Friston which was hideously steep, narrow and full of traffic – I enjoyed every minute. And I didn’t fall off ;-)

Still smiling at this point…

These are going to be famous last words I’m sure – but I’m starting to enjoy climbing. Not the sort of hills that are so steep I wonder if I am moving at all, and unclip in a wobbly panic, but the longer, more gradual climbs. One such was the long climb up the zig zag road (Upper Dukes Drive?) from Eastbourne to Beachy Head. I’m not saying I sang my way up it with a smile on my face, but there’s something satisfying about getting from A to B, uphill, with only your legs and two wheels to thank. It’s the good kind of hard work, and, dare I say it, the good kind of pain. There’s a fine line there though..

I have never cycled against such strong winds as those on the top of Beachy Head that day. I had to lean my bike against the wind so that I didn’t get blown into the sea*. I’m looking forward to going back to those roads on a still day.

(*slight exaggeration)

So I finished my weekend with 105 miles on the clock, which is probably some sort of record for me. A few days later and my legs are politely reminding me of every one of those miles, by aching like hell. Still, there’s only one way to deal with that – let’s get planning the next ride.

Our route! Click map to see larger image

The bleak mid-Winter

The cold is ferocious. It bites through my layers and gnaws at my bones. Thank God for merino wool, and lots of pairs of socks. I keep going because if I stop I may just freeze. “Beneath this stone lies the cyclist who stopped pedalling.”  There is tea and toast at the end of my journey, and that keeps my legs turning.

Winter Solstice 100 RR

Winter Solstice 100 RR, December 21st – 22nd

This looks to be another exciting ride from those folks at Vélo Morphē.

It costs nothing to come along to this ride, and in that line of thought you are expected to be self sufficient (bring your own food & drink/spare light batteries/tubes etc). You are responsible for your own safety. It’s basically a ride with friends, but you’ll get to meet some new faces too. Saying that, there’s going to be vehicle support so you’ll be able to chuck some of your stuff in the van.

Taken from the VM blog:

“In the spirit of White Chalk Hills UCX and the Dunwich Dynamo we propose an A to B road ride heading east from Winchester to meet the rising sun on the sunshine coast and breakfast in Eastbourne.”

I’m in, are you?

Full details here.

“I am a visitor here”

Last night I rode home from a friends house on the other side of Brighton. It was a far flung corner of the city that I had never been to before, so I rode some new paths. I like discovering new places that are hiding within somewhere that I think I know so well.

The ride home was at first through sleepy suburbia: passing big houses and empty schools, then through the busier centre of town that I more frequently pass through. Dodging the odd drunken stranger who staggers into the bike lane, faces in greasy cafe windows, kamikaze seagulls looking for their dinner in the road…

I love Brighton but when I ride through it at night, in the cold, all I want is to be home. It’s strange how a place takes on a whole new character in the dark. Riding through the city at night I am ”in it but not of it”; an observer. Wrapped up in layers to protect from the chilling wind, I feel separated from the streets, like a visitor here.

This morning on my way to buy coffee I walked down those same streets, and now lit, they are familiar again. 

 

Ready for Winter…sort of.

On Wednesday I took Claud to the bike shop for some new tires. Now I should explain that my ‘local’ bike shop is actually 8 miles or so down the road in Lewes, because 1) they are the best, and 2) I just love to make things difficult for myself.

I had accidentally left my main bike lights at my parents house, and decided that riding the whole way there in the dark would not be a good idea. So I put some (not very good) back up lights on my bike and set off to get the train. Having ridden to the station, and bought a ticket, I was told by Mr Southern Rail that I couldn’t board the train with a bicycle. Apparently you can’t do that between 4 and 7pm. I shall save a rant on that subject for another day..

So, wearing a tshirt dress and a woolly hat (I hadn’t anticipated cycling far) I set off to the shop on the only truly reliable mode of transport: my bicycle.

It was cold, I got oil on my tights and I couldn’t see very much, but I got there on my own steam with no ‘can I see your railcard?’ or ‘feet off the seats!’.

After my trip to the shop, Claud is ready for Winter. And having been on a bit of a Winter wardrobe splurge myself, I think I can just about say that I am too. Now if only it would stop raining…

Future Cycles, Lewes

 

 

 

 

Day 24 – Riding the night

I went on a short (8 miles) but very cold, wet and windy ride along the seafront late last night. The road was lit until a certain point on the coastal path, where upon I was plunged into darkness (apart from the light from my bike lights, of course). I could hear the sea crashing, but barely see it.  The wet, white chalk of the cliffs splattered my clothes and my bike.

Despite the cold and the rain, it was great fun. In fact, as long as you’re dressed for the weather, riding in the elements can be exhilarating. I’ll be out soon for another, longer, night ride. Winter is fast approaching…time to stock up on light batteries and cocoa for making hot chocolate at the end of a ride.