Realities of Winter Cycle Touring
Updated: May 31, 2018
(Ruth) We’ve been on the road for a month now and have cycled just under 1000 miles. The last part of that sentence seems crazy to me but I am writing this from an old monastery in Southern Switzerland so we must have put in a fair amount of leg-work. As the weather looks like it’s going to start warming up, I thought I would compile a list of the less glamorous aspects of winter cycling, so people can know the reality before planning when to set off.
In order of daily woes:
1.The Crustache. This is a word I made up to describe the dry crusty skin that has been living between my nose and upper lip for the months of February and March so far. Being outside for 8 hours a day only seems to anger the Crustache, as does moisturiser, essential oils, blowing my nose and ironically central heating.
2. Muscle Seize. My thighs have been burning for at least 65% of this trip so far, but the pain is definitely aggravated by taking a pause in the cold. It’s a dilemma for me because I love taking a pause and have to weigh up whether the muscle seize will outweigh the pleasure of stopping or not. Sometimes I can’t work it out in time and the moment passes and then I’m faced with an uphill where my thighs are going to burn anyway. In these moments I have Tina, Dolly, Beyonce, Aretha and Adele to thank - female power playlists seem to be the only way to get me over the hill.
3. Airing your laundry in public. I’m fine with washing my underwear in a sink but feel slightly disheartened when it’s not dry the next morning. The next step is to strap the damp underwear to the back rack of my bicycle and hope the wind will work its magic throughout the day. Often it doesn’t.
4.The beacon that is my red nose. My friends will attest that this is also a problem for me in summer and get bored of watching me apply factor 50+ onto my nose at hourly intervals. But, in winter I think it’s worse. Maybe it’s the light but in photos, it seems to positively glow. The result is that I look like I’ve had been drinking heavily for the most part of the trip.
5. It’s just really cold. At the end of day that gets pretty tiring and makes it easy to question why we decided to this.
From reading the above you might assume that we are having an average to poor time at best. But actually, despite this list, I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for our first month on the road. Being out in the elements makes me appreciate a warm dinner and a bed at the end of the day so much more. And, it amazes me when we meet strangers who are willing to offer us this. I’ve often thought about people who have to live outdoors at all times and admire how resilient humans can be.
Winter cycling also allows you to see the landscape transform with the seasons in ways that I'd have missed if we’d been travelling by other means. Spring is trying it’s very best to make itself known and every time I see it try, I think I try a little harder too.