Changes In Biking Season

I cycled to work for the first time in a few months the other day. Since the ongoing problem with my hamstring I’ve slumped into a period of laziness and have been lacking enthusiasm. However, on Monday the weather was gorgeously sunny, warm and without wind so I dragged myself around the house collecting biking gear and packing my rucksack ready for the trip to work.

For the record I loved every minute of my ride both there and back but what struck me the most are the ‘seasons of biking’ I’ve experienced month to month as I’ve biked throughout the previous years. This March being strikingly similar to historical months of March where I’ve biked to work along the same stretch of road and had to weave amongst the dead rabbits. Big ones, little ones, rabbits that are still ‘whole’ and probably still warm from just being hit and ones that have been run over so many times they mearly represent a small dirty piece of fur cloth tangled and twisted on the tarmac.

January of course brings ice and sometimes snow, not that I bike when the roads are that yucky because the slush makes it difficult to see and unless you’re seasoned and aufait with where the bumps and potholes are the ride can be a bit of a gamble. Even the pothole savvy can fall prey to the hidden metal manhole covers coated in slush which are about as much your friend on a bike as riding a bike with slick tyres through bog mud patches. Sliptastic.

February is when the iciness becomes less frequent yet there are large patches of salty grit/sand left on the road. The sand drifts to the outside edge of the road and become quicksand traps on the corners that won’t hesitate to pull your front wheel out like a rug from under your feet.

March is mad hare (and rabbit) month. I’m sure it’s what they’re all going mad for that causes them to die in hundreds on the roads becoming an obstacle course of rabbit cones for you to dodge between. The ones with a squashed body and intact head bother me the most.

April is crazy bird month. Birds dive out of the hedgerows and into my path on every mile during the nesting season. The blackbirds are the cheekiest as they leave the hedgerow on one side and swoop down to the level of the road, just past my front tyre and back up into the hedge on the other side. It’s also the month the Rapeseed begins to bloom – and that stuff STINKS

May is bug month. There is one particular route I don’t use during the month of May as the clouds of small black bugs congregating under the trees is too much to waft through on a bike. Half the time you don’t know they are there until you’re coughing them out of your throat. There are also the kamakaze beetles that make a mad dash from the verge onto the blacktop to get to the other side. The front wheel nearly always misses them, I never look back to see if the back wheel did too.

June. Ah, what’s not to like about JUNE, except maybe hayfeaver – I suppose that affects people in June. But for me it’s the warm days where riding through the fully bloomed countryside with shady dappled trees bowing gently in the wind and the smell of warm tarmac rises gently to meet my nose as I float along with a smile on my face that not even irritated drivers crawling up my ass can remove. June is the month, the one month where not even Gordon Brown can make me hate this country. Ok, well, maybe.

July is a twist of two emotions where I’m either scathing because the weather is unseasonably cold, has been overcast for what seems like centuries or is pissing down with rain on the day that I decided to ride in wearing a vest top and shorts. The English summer is as reliable as the governments policies on not stealing our civil liberties and you must be prepared on the day you ride in through a heatwave to return in an ice storm. The tractors are busy again in July, harvesting the fields and pulling trailers piled high with hay bales along the roads. Some days it’s fun to use the tractor in front as a pace vehicle, always to the amusement of the driver that a cyclist is keeping up with him. I got so fit one year I actually had to overtake a tractor that was going just a bit too slowly.  It was one pulling the trailer load of hay and by the time I got level with the cab to wave a small shower of hay left my arm and blew into the wind. I turned up to work looking like Wurzle Gummage.

August – Ah, they’ve finally cut the verges back again by now and instead of running the gaunlet of hedgerows getting whipped by overhanging stinging nettles and brambles I can now actually see vehicles coming around corners and down the lanes. August is also the time where that Badger that got run over back in April has reached toxic air polluting levels and the heat makes the stink stick to you as you waft past, enjoying the smell of rotten death for the next 100 metres.

September is pleasant yet full of DOOM. Many mornings now have that oh-so-familiar cooling feeling to them. The side of cold that err’s on frosty and I know that it’s not going to be many more weeks before the long trousers and sleeved tops will be the order of the ride. Some of the fields get ploughed up again and the large chunks of mud that fall off the tractor tyres can make riding a bit tricky. That is until it rains and turns into a molton mud lava that tyres without mudguards fling up your chest and underside of your chin and create a line of brown from the seat to the middle of your back. Get used to sitting at your desk picking dried mud freckles off your face all day.

October is the next step on the scale of cold. Although the sun shines many days the mornings are crisp and the leaves of the Horse Chestnut Trees have all but thrown themselves off the branches. Glorious colours, muddy roads and the start of wet leave mash to watch out for. Tyres and wet leave mash are like a stepping on a peeled banana which has been left on a marble floor. The fields are all ploughed now ready for winter planting and the foggy mornings always drape themselves heavily just above the soil. I love the earthy smell this emits into air and October is the last month you can enjoy this really as when the temps drop to ice and snow it seems to rob the scent away.

November and December arrive like an uninvited guest bringing with them rain and bitter temperatures. The nights have drawn in, it’s dark at 4pm and the usual routine of donning hi-viz jacket, helmet and bag are added to by clamping lights onto the bars and seat post. The only sights you see on the way on these rides are the dim patch of light pooled on the road in front of you and the misty breath puffing from your mouth.

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2 Comments »

  1. mrs hojo said

    ever considered emigration?

    ;o) xc

  2. foxsden said

    I did… and then I moved back????? Haven’t figured that out yet.

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