One of the unanticipated side effects of moving from a dark, rather cold house when it was usually warmer to be outside, to a much better insulated sunnier one is that I have much less desire to get out on the bike when it’s cold. On cold bright days I can enjoy the sunshine from inside, and on cold miserable ones I can see the weather coming from a long way off and it tends to put me off. Add in lockdown, and the lack of an enforced bike ride for the paper every day, and with the weather we’ve been having (-7C this morning, apparently, thank you Weather Gods) it’s not surprising that I haven’t been out on the bike since Monday, when the First Minister announced we were going back into lockdown.
Still, today I had a couple of errands to run, which seemed justification enough to get back on the bike. I had intended to go to the post office but with Bigtownshire going from one of the regions with the lowest number of coronavirus cases in Scotland to the second highest in less than two weeks (and 90% of cases being the new, more transmissible, version) the risk of having to queue for the post office seemed like a white-knuckle ride too far, so I confined my shopping to the (almost deserted) garage instead.
The roads weren’t too slippy, fortunately, so, COVID aside, the chief danger to life and limb was the risk of frostbite while taking photos (did I mention it got down to minus 7 at all?) and my fellow road users. I noticed during the last lockdown that while 90% of the traffic might have disappeared, the 10% that remained were almost 100% the sort of drivers who think it’s fine to pass a cyclist on a blind bend or a single track road 50 yards before they get to a passing place and it turns out during this new lockdown the same thing holds, but with slightly more traffic and added icy verges. I don’t think it helps that without my hub dynamo I no longer have a rear light on all the time – anecdotally I have noticed far more of the sort of close passes where the driver just acts as if the bicycle isn’t there, or has zero width. I realise logically that ascribing reason to the average UK driver around bicycles makes as much sense as blaming the weather on the actions of some made up minor deities, but I wonder if a massively bright rear light just makes me look like a ‘proper’ road user – maybe a motorbike – until they get close enough to realise it’s just the local madwoman on a pushbike by which time they’ve already started to pass me sensibly.
However, despite their best efforts, I survived both hazards and got some much-needed exercise (I don’t think our state-sanctioned stroll down the road end to inspect the rubbish bag status and/or grit bin really counts). And given that we seem to be coping with this lockdown by eating our way through it, it may not have been a moment too soon. We’ve a thaw coming in the forecast, so I might have to drag myself out again just for the exercise – which may just involve swinging by to check out the ford.