‘Why are you looking at me like that? Do I look ridiculous?’ I asked as I donned buff, hat, jacket, scarf, extra socks and clumpy boots in preparation for going out on the bike.
‘No, you’re fine,’ said the other half – until I put on my gloves. ‘OK, now you look ridiculous…’
This is the downside of my magical crispy tyres: there’s now no excuse not to cycle, just because its a few degrees below freezing. So I’ve had to modify my winter wardrobe a little to cope with the cold. Mostly, riding a bike in the winter isn’t that much different from walking, so I get away with wearing what I’d wear to go outside anyway. But my hands are another matter – stuck out on the handlebars taking the brunt of the wind, they quickly feel cold, and then ache, and then go numb and then (when I finally get in and thaw them out again) feel as if someone’s just whacked them with a hammer. Given that I have such poor circulation I normally have to wear gloves to cycle even in the ‘height’ of ‘summer’, my hands are especially prone to getting chilled. So on my Christmas list I’d asked for (and got, thanks Babymother!) lobster gloves.
Now in practical terms these make sense. They combine the warmth of mittens (where your fingers can keep each other warm) with some of the dexterity of gloves – I’ve never quite felt secure cycling with proper mittens on. And they do work … it’s just … well, they make you look like a mutant. A mutant with cloven hoofs where your hands ought to be. Which may not be all that helpful when dealing with drivers who think cyclists are all the spawn of Satan anyway.
Still, as I cycled home today into the biting north east wind and struggled up the longest hill to the wry salutes (from nice warm vehicles) from the workmen who were clearing out the ditch, I realised that from their point of view I was already a bit of a wierdo just for cycling in the freezing cold, regardless of what I was actually wearing. So if I’m going to be a wierdo anyway, at least I can be one with toasty warm hands.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering about the effectiveness of those ice tyres? This is what our road looked like yesterday (and that was actually an improvement). Bike didn’t even notice