I'm a northerner. I thought I knew what the cold was. I knew nothing.
Germany hit -7 this week and I was the stupid one in bright pink overshoes attempting to take on those elements.
The pain of cold is easier to handle than the pain of being useless.
Essentially that’s why. I’ve not been able to train much recently, and I convinced myself the cold would be easier to cope with than another week of feeling like a pathetic human being who can’t ride a bike.
Of course it was also for the training, the views and the opportunity to do something that most people would say is stupid. Most people are right. This day, I felt like being stupid.
It was a 68km route. Mostly flat with a few bumps to get the chamois out the saddle.
No stop planned in.
One of the biggest barriers of riding in the cold is knowing what kit to wear.
Like a good night out, success starts with the wardrobe.
- Rapha Winter hat and helmet
- Rapha Winter snood
- Rapha merino Base layer
- Long sleeve brevet windproof jersey
- Souplesse Winter jacket
- Rapha Winter tights
- Two pairs of gloves
- Rapha Winter Overshoes
Load the route, back pockets filled, dial up the stupid and roll out.
30km in and I was riding across landscapes that were covered in white with temperatures hitting below -7. No other cyclists on the road. No other people in sight. Just me and the bike, searching hopelessly for the feeling I’d lost across my entire body. It was 3 hours of torture, sprinkled with wonderfully aesthetic views.
I thought about a lot during those 3 hours; why was I much fitter a few months ago, why did I eat so much last night, why did I send that message, why do I prefer smooth peanut butter? Not much logic, but that’s not what empty roads are built for. They’re for letting these odd (and often stupid) thoughts in and pedalling whilst you try to understand them. Giving you headspace that most people crave but never find.
Why am I riding in the cold? A question that didn't yet have an answer as my little finger became unbearably painful and as I tried to get a drink but my water had turned to ice. Why am I this stupid?
It may have been a stupid idea. It took me a few hours to warm back up once I returned. I felt shattered the whole day and my eyes were stinging from the weather. But these ideas are often the ones that make you feel anything but stupid afterwards. You feel like you know something about the world that others don’t. Experienced something and witnessed views that others won’t. You have a content feeling that may not exist in those who chose the easy option that morning. You find many answers to those why questions you asked yourself.
It’s quite possible that stupid ideas lead to disaster (see previous blog post).
But it may be that sometimes they lead to wiser and more interesting people.
What’s normal becomes boring.
So thank you bike, for making me more stupid.