Falling temperatures = wavering motivation to ride…

There’s no debate to be had about it. I’m simply a fair weather cyclist. In fact I’m a fair weather person in general in that I love sunshine, warm weather and most of all summer. So as we move into Autumn in the UK each year and the temperature drops and gray skies close in ….  I start to find it harder and harder to get out on the bike (not to mention generally feeling just a bit miffed that summers over again).

So with the temperatures falling as well as a busy few weeks, I was starting to get a bit grumpy about the fact that I’d only been out on the bike once in two weeks. Not good. 

After a busy weekend of kids parties (both days) I blocked out a few hours in my diary on Monday with a view to starting to get things back on track. It was cooler though and harder to get out the door but I did manage to get out and get going. Each time I’ve had a break of more than about 10 days I’ve started worrying about losing form/speed and that in particular my leg strength will reduce and hills will be tougher. 

I was delighted to find that this time – none of those things had happened. after the first few kms I felt good on the bike, sure it was colder but I was dressed for it – I had my shorts on with legwarmers, plus my winter jacket with removable sleeves. As I got hotter I stopped and removed the leg warmers then half an hour later stopped and removed the sleeves of my jacket as it wasn’t that cold once I was out – around 14 degrees. The speed was good and this was particularly surprising given it was very windy at around 35kmh. I avoided the wind where I could, got a good tail wind in place and got nailed by it in others. This particular ride was out and over the Ashdown Forest and it was very blustery out in the open on the top. I don’t have aero wheels but one gust in particular moved me about 2 ft across the road whilst I was doing about 35kmh. That got my attention. Apart from a couple of uphill drags squarely into the wind, I loved being back out on the road. A high average speed (for me) helped that feeling a lot. Monday’s ride was 70km, 830m of climbing and an average speed of 28.3kmh. I was very happy to be back out there.
As the week progressed temperatures have continued to drop. My next ride was on the 14th and the temperature was now down 3 degrees to 11. It was still fairly windy but not as bad however, today I was out wearing my DHB Merston Bibtights which are for Autumnal and Spring riding – so were good for today. Annoyingly I’ve misplaced one of my jacket sleeves after the last ride so I was wearing a thermal jersey over a thin base layer. It’s a jersey I’ve not worn a lot as I always felt too hot in it but not today. It felt colder – wind chill perhaps and part of the adjusting to cooler weather phase. In the winter’s I’ve been happy to go out at 0 degrees as long as it’s not raining – so 11 degrees still is far from cold … it just felt it on Thursday. I took a slightly shorter route heading north of the A264 via Blackham and around and through Cowden then through to Hartfield where I turned for home. It wasn’t as fast as the previous ride, but I was still doing pretty well. Surprisingly I felt cold pretty much the whole way round – so when Wiggle (http://www.wiggle.co.uk/) sent me a 24 hour special offer on base layers afterwards, I ordered a new merino one! Again it was a good ride but slightly less satisfying than the last one in terms of form and pace but it was better in the sense of less wind and more miles on the board. This ride was just over 60km with 760m of climbing and an average speed of 27.1 – ok but not amazing.
On Saturday the best time to fit around family stuff was the afternoon when the weather forecast was suggesting rain about 4pm. I didn’t manage to get out of the house until 3pm (my fault) so I thought I might get a bit wet – or at least give my Crud Roadracers ( http://www.crudproducts.com/products/roadracer/) a bit more work to do. I decided to ride back towards the Ashdown Forest skirting around the edge to Forest Row and then back up through the forest to Chelwood Gate, which I’d done earlier in the week and really enjoyed. There was a bit of water on the road here and there but it didn’t rain. The roads were pretty busy with cars and on the way out of Tunbridge Wells I passed about half a dozen cyclists riding back into town finishing their rides. It was a bit windier again but not as bad as Monday and I was wearing my new base layer as a bit of extra warmth (it worked extremely well too). I’d also restocked on my energy drink which I feel is really essential in the colder weather – kind of comfort food for cycling. Sadly my speed was slightly down on Monday but it was still another 70km, which took me over 200km for the week. It was also another 850m climbing and an average speed of 27.9kmh. Good stuff and the end of my first decent week of riding for several weeks – sporadic sunshine had also made it feel warmer than 11 degrees but by 5pm on the way back home the temperature and the light was fading. It was only the second or third ride since last winter that I’d had my rear light on the bike – something that’s going to be normal procedure again very soon.
Total distance for the year is now just under 3,900km and I’m looking foward to trying to find the time to do another 3 rides in the coming week, work/weather allowing. 

Thanks for reading.