As Spring starts to tentatively push the thermometers up toward double figures, the cycle ride to work could not have been more different from a couple of Mondays ago when the country struggled with a deadly payload of snow, some of it drifting as high as the ankle.
Today was even made stranger still by the eerie silence along the coast road. Seagulls could make themselves heard, cars trundled along with no need to rush or fight for space. Everything was calm and quiet and polite and civilised and then I realised – it’s the school half term holiday this week.
Oh well, enjoy it while it lasts and then next week the country can go back to scratching it’s collective head as to why children are getting increasingly unhealthy and obese. It’ll pass the time for them in the traffic jam.
A little while ago, I signed up to the World Commute website
According to the blurb, World Commute is a not-for-profit, free social-network website to encourage, promote and track the use of non-motorised transportation around the world. It allows users to create a profile and record non-motorised trips including daily commutes to work or school and “taking care of business” trips to the shops etc. Because they also want to promote physical health through activity, users can also record recreational and fitness activities scoring “health points.” Even though a run at lunch may not contribute to reduced carbon emissions, it is physical activity that promotes a healthier individual.
It’s very pleasing to watch the miles pile up. In 36 working days, I’ve clocked up 792 miles (Worthing to Oslo is 763 miles as the crow flies), saved £130 and offset 767lbs of carbon (although I’m not quite sure what these figures are based on). My sexiness in lycra rating is 9.5 out of 10, even in cold weather. Alright, I made that up.
Obviously, if your commute involves cycling to your local crack den, you may lose the health points you’ve gained but at least you’re not driving a stolen car thereby offsetting carbon. You have to think about these things.
Siberian winds swept in across Britain today with snow and ice, and Britain as usual scuttled back under it’s duvet. Well, those that were searching for the perfect excuse anyway. The media and anyone with free time wondered why we collapse like a house of cards in a force one breeze when a couple of inches of snow arrives but quite frankly what’s the point? Local councils need invest in no more than a bit of grit because snow only really affects us for about two or three days a year. Occasionally. And it’s hardly at the Siberan levels from whence it came. Then the snow will melt to a million digital memories on facebook and the media interest will go back to Credit Crunch Britain or Celebrity Come Big Brother or something.
I still cycled to work today. It’s 11 miles from Worthing to Brighton. It was a little slippy in places but great fun in todays winter wonderland and one of the genuine rewards for cycling through the seasons. Here’s the thing; work colleagues were amazed that I’d done something so ‘mad’ and ‘lunatic’ today. Yet I cannot think of anything simpler than getting on a bicycle whatever the weather and riding it. Some may consider me an ‘experienced’ cyclist but what is that other than yet another excuse thrown up by people to deny themselves the simplicity and fun and beauty of cycling themselves? I take the view that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Even Professor Stephen Hawking could probably give me a run for my money on the morning commute with the right stabilizers and strategically placed bungee cords.
I was greeted with looks of horror as I said goodbye to work colleagues this afternoon in my cycling gear and believe it or not I’m going to do it again tomorrow. This is not because I have something to prove, this is not to gain any moral high ground or show off any eco-credentials (I also own a Vauxhall Corsa so we can forget that). I do it because it’s a bewilderingly thermodynamically wonderful piece of piss. As simple as snow falling.