When the weather isn’t miserable of an evening, the night-time commute makes for a good cycle. Before the light pollution in Witney really takes over the sky, the landscape is picked out in cool shades of blue-white: from the moon (when it’s around: it doesn’t make another appearance until the 17th or so) or from my weird bike lights. Non-halogen lights still feel wrong somehow: unhomely, or maybe just plain unheimlich.
If there’s no clouds, or high clouds, the night is like an arena, a vast stadium around you, a velodrome with you racing against yourself. You can almost imagine the echo of your chain over the black fields, rattling through the bare branches of trees and into the cracks in drystone walls. As the clouds descend so the imagined space contracts, until it starts to get wet and cramped like the walls of an unsalubrious club: a clingy, dirty damp. The sweat of wrapped-up cycling mixes with the clouds, as they creep closer and closer in, until the air becomes almost too warm, a pocket of sticky summer in the November chill.
Mostly, though, the evening cycle ride is an unenviable slog, the morning one more so. Both are more effort than they would be in January or February, even if it were darker or even icy. Some days it feels like November is burying me alive, every morning darker than the last, another shovelful of earth on the shallow grave, and there’s just too much to be done before December and we’re licenced to have fun. Meanwhile, my back is falling apart, my sinuses keep going crazy and all I want to do is eat chocolate and crisps and go to bed. As I’m still registered with a doctor some ten miles away then that’s probably as good a treatment as any.