It’s another bright winter’s morn. The fog that hugged the ground and hid the view is now dissipating. The sun is taking charge, even though it’s weak in January. There isn’t a cloud to be seen and that is as good as it gets at this time of year. Crisp, dry mornings are my winter preference. You can keep those soggy mild days as far as I’m concerned. These cold, clear days are ideal for pedalling off some of the Christmas excesses and for rolling along gently and dreaming of what is to come in the new year. They are also good for recharging cognitively after holiday stresses.
I’ve travelled in all kinds of weathers and would like to offer some detailed tips on surviving cold and rain. So here are my top 25 tips for touring in the rain:
I needed a day out. A day when I’m not sat at home wondering where everything will lead. Today was that day, even though it didn’t feel like it when I got up. To be honest it doesn’t often feel like a good day and during most of this year I’ve just tried to accept that carry on as best I can. There has been no great journey, no adventures of any kind, just the day to day slog of trying to get through the days and weeks. There has been changes in medication, mostly successful, and ongoing investigations into other aspects of my ever-struggling body and mind. But they haven’t led anywhere that feels different to the place that I started from.
I have a strong personal belief that leaving isn’t the toughest part of a long journey. That award goes to returning home. There are many articles about the pains and pitfalls of arriving back in reality and many of those describe something close to the stages you might experience when you’re grieving. So, what happens? Why is getting back to the home that you most likely love, and have at times yearned for, so difficult? Perhaps the fact that we give coming home no, or little, thought before leaving may contribute to its impact when we return.
You’ve been away and completed your first ever bike tour. Congratulations, you now know the joys of travelling slowly and simply under your own steam. Sitting here I’m wondering what you are thinking. Why did I wait so long before I started, is common. You might also ask yourself, why was I afraid, or, why did I carry all that extra stuff that I eventually sent home in a parcel? Some things worked well, and some didn’t, but next time you will have more of an idea what suits you personally. Cycle touring is a learning curve. You must get out and explore to understand what works for you in any given environment, and that takes time and experience.
Once you leave home and head off into the big wide world on your bike, life becomes a lot simpler. Gone for now are the letters dropping on your mat and the annoying phone calls that make demands on you when you’d rather be resting in the evening. There’s no nagging boss or deadlines, outside of the ones you set yourself. You are free to do as you wish, explore where you will and travel slowly and purposefully through the world, rather than rushing around like a headless chicken.
So there you are, all packed up, standing at your doorway and wondering whether or not you are about to make a terrible mistake by heading off on your first cycle tour on a bike that looks more like a camel than the slick vehicle that you usually ride. Most likely you will have over packed, taking far more than you really need for the journey you are undertaking. Don’t worry. Once you settle in, after a few days riding, you can always send a box of stuff home in the post.