Goodbye rain and hello snow! Rain is fine (if a little wet) but it’s not quite as conducive to cycling as the cold burst we had for most of December and half of January. Apart from being like an ice rink in places I found the lengthy burst of icy weather as near as perfect for riding – no rain for weeks and copious blue skies. Admittedly cycling in minus-6 makes it a little fresh about the edges but there’s something very enjoyable about freezing arctic air hitting your face at speed. And now we have the snowiest snow burst to hit the country since the early 1990s. What joy!
When I thought about cycling with Molly in these below freezing temperatures I did hesitate for at least, well … a good ten seconds, before I thought of course I should! After all, it’s only cold weather and as they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing. So I make sure Molly is dressed for polar explorations before we sally forth from the fireside into the bracing glacial conditions. Trying to dress a two-year old can be exasperating at the best of times – they might run off, go rigid, go floppy, have a tantrum, refuse to put on a certain allocated shoe, shirt, sock, skirt – but trying to dress Molly in two pairs of leggings, two pairs of socks, a vest, two shirts, a hoody fleece, a neck warmer, two jackets, a two-piece thermal ski-suit (bought for £7 from Tchibo), a hat, thick mittens and a pair of woolly boots takes on a completely new meaning altogether of parental persistence and patience. But we get there in the end – although it’s not been unknown to have got this far and all strapped up into the bike only to discover Molly has released a little potent something into a certain lower catchment area so we have to start all over again.
For obvious reasons the al-fresco bike seat is out. Even I wouldn’t subject Molly to sitting outside in frost-bound air into a 20mph wind. This is where the bike trailer comes into its own. I’ve insulated the seat, floor and sides with thick foam camping mats. So in climbs Molly. I tuck her in with a hot water bottle on her lap and seven blankets over the top and down the sides. Then I zip up all severe weather storm flaps for extra wind-proofing and we’re off. Every now and then I stop to check her circulation is still intact and functioning. But no worries in this department as she is always like a small heat generator – very useful for warming my hands on.
Santa brought a generous heap of bike lights and fluorescent jackets among his load so now our rolling road train flashes and flickers even more than it used to. I have also attached to the back of the trailer a few finds I have rescued from roadside ditches – a big red and only slightly cracked reflective triangle and a Southern Electric yellow warning sign that reads ‘DANGER LIVE APPARATUS’ that I thought is a pretty fine description of my boisterously chatting-and-singing inner trailer cargo.
PS. Surprisingly the CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club) have recently asked me to be their Vice President. I’m not quite sure what that means I’m supposed to do, but when I do I’ll let you know.