Saturday 21 July 2018

The many perils of the urban cyclist

Winter cycling throws up issues
Winter cycling throws up issues
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

This is my first winter cycling and I don't mind saying it is throwing up a few issues. It's been all very well up to now. I would even say I was getting a bit cocky. There was the odd soaking, but mostly the weather was grand for my short outings. And there were certain other things you could take for granted, like light. Who knew that cycling in daylight was only the first rung of the ladder, a fool's paradise?

Because I am, though you wouldn't think it to look at me, quite vain, the clothing has been a big issue for me. Since the cycling started I've been steadily compromising on clothing. It's a head-to-toe affair. It starts with a helmet. There was no way I was going around in one of those coloured helmets. So I bought a giant matt black one. I told myself that I looked like a cool Italian on a moped. I knew deep down that I just looked like a man with a large head who made it even larger with the addition of a giant helmet. But I got over that. Then I realised something else crucial. I can't gel my hair and then put on a helmet. This might seem trivial for you. But for a man whose natural hair is a kind of fluffy bush, a man who hasn't liked leaving the house with gel since the early 1980s, this was a problem. The obvious solution would be to cram the giant helmet over the huge bale of straw in the morning, cycle to work, and gel up at work. But I have to admit I've been tending to gel the hair at home and not wear the helmet on the way in to work. To make up for not wearing the helmet, I cycle very carefully. But, of course, there is always a voice in my head saying that accidents are not something you can avoid by just being careful. Accidents are generally unpredictable. That's why they are called accidents.

Until the winter came that was my only real style compromise. I also got a Puffa and then a mac as we came into autumn. But while they were cycle-friendly they were also garments you could wear elsewhere and they didn't have any crazy colours or branding on them.

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