Cycling a rural commute at this time of year is a tricky business. From one day to the next, the temperatures swoop and soar like Cotswold hills. Back roads are ungritted; main roads have a thin strip where drivers have driven the salt in, and which they don’t particularly like to share.
The only consideration is to make sure you’re warm enough: old ski gloves; merino top; thermals under waterproofs. Most cycling gear is made to be breathable, which can keep you warm on still nights, but seems to turn to a thin mesh in the biting winds we’ve been having this past few days. Better to overheat, than to end up chilled; I’ve spent a few February evenings feeling slightly dehydrated and sunstruck, as if it were really August.
Getting out and about reaps rewards, though. Twilight starting to creep into the dark evening commute. Brittle yellow sunrises landing on hillsides like smashed china. The glorious dry cold, desertifying the tarmac, divesting it of moisture and hence of the possibility of ice. And breaking through to that nirvana of comfort at speed, when you’ve dressed just right for today’s temperature, and as you pick up speed the frequently subzero air strips off any excess heat.
Letting you stretch your muscles that little bit further every day. Getting ready for summer.