Friday, 5 March 2010


March is here and with it, first signs of spring. Snowdrops are out and other bulbs are poking their heads out of the soil. This first week of the month marked a change to cycling to work without lights in both the morning and evening. I don't remember the change last year. Maybe that indicates a yearning on my part for warmer, lighter rides or my subconscious telling me it's been a long hard winter. The extra visibility has allowed damage the winter has had on the local roads to be seen more easily. The battle of the potholes continues, but my impression is that councils are losing the war, because more holes appear as fast as they can fill the old ones. The white paint vandals have been out spraying the roads marking hazards ready for the repair teams. I counted fifteen repairs marked on the way home. The trouble is if they don't fix them promptly, the markings disappear and some of the holes, especially around ironworks, grids and grates are getting huge.

We Brits are known for our obsession with the weather, but everyone is if their climate is changeable. The met office tell us this winter has been the coldest for 31 years in England and the coldest since 1962/63 in Scotland. Of course, in the intervening years, technology and the way we live our lives changed immensely. A comparison in absolute terms may be irrefutable, but, when compared on a perceptual level, I doubt if most people thought it was so cold. I'm always amazed to see what people wear. Some don't seem to change their clothing habits to suit the seasons or daily weather. I see folk wandering around in shorts and T-shirts when the mercury is sub zero and 'dressed-up to the nines', even when the weather is mild. It defies logic, or perhaps indicates a better or worse tolerance of temperature change. It could also indicate their heating is very good, and that is where technology comes in, either at home or in the car. Remember the days of iced up house windows? There's not many that will see that on the inside of window panes these days but it was commonplace when I was a child.

This winter has certainly presented its challenges and, where commuting is concerned, will be remembered by many, for the inconvenience caused. Cycling to work this winter, in general, hasn't seemed more difficult, except for the couple of weeks when we had snow and ice. Then, although difficult, riding turned out to be the most effective way to get to work. If anything the colder weather has been better. I can only remember getting wet a couple of times, which is quite astounding really since we live in a wet climate. If next year presents us with the same challenging weather, I won't hesitate to do some more bike walking to work and may even think of a more suitable machine for the job. I intend, by then, to have a different bike to commute on and will consider adding some contingency options for riding in snow, such as a change of tyres, as it can be quite a lot of fun.