Monday, 8 May 2017


Well, the mornings are cold now, and dark, and wet, and I am still riding to work. So that's good. I can do it. What would definitely make it lots easier and nicer is having the proper kit. ie an adequate coat, some sort of lower half of body garb that is ok when it rains, a pannier bag, and gloves. I just can't though. Have really tried. I have been to many, many shops now that sell this sort of stuff, and I can't bring myself to buy any pieces of it.

The fact of entering such shops at all, with what I believe really is a genuine intention to make a purchase, is a big development for me. I've thought for a long time that cycling is a normal activity which should not and actually does not require abnormal clothes. And this theory works fine if it is not raining. Actually it also works pretty OK if it is raining, as long as it's not cold as well as raining. I have been on my bike in rain where 8mm fell in two hours but because it was summer, didn't really matter. But to be soaked to the skin on a June morning when there is a 40 km/h southerly blowing and the sun isn't up yet is to risk hypothermia. So I accepted that there are situations when you need different than normal clothing to ride a bicycle. And a-shopping I did go. But when I was standing there looking at the stuff I just.could.not. It is very expensive. It is not pleasant to wear. It is made of dubious petrochemical-based synthetics, and in factories with who knows what kinds of dreadful work practices? 

But, most insurmountable of all, it is all very, very, very ugly. Horrible colours, horrible textures and shapes, bad decorations, looks bad on the body. And this is setting aside the generalised ugliness of the overly sporty, racing-stripe, winning-the-tour-de-france ethic of it all. In practice I can't actually set that or any other element aside, and so I have no gloves and if there is even a little bit of water around my hands get colder than I thought it was possible for hands to get without actually freezing solid. 

So, all of that, right. This morning, though, at a quarter to seven, when I opened the front door to step outside, it was cold dark wet and freezing and I just went fuck it, hate self! I am an idiot for not buying a hideous but beautifully warm and dry pair of gloves. I went back indoors and found my elbow-length black leather gloves. These are a little bit warm but not at all waterproof. I put them on. After not many moments consideration I rectified the un-waterproofness by stretching a pair of thin rubber disposable food service gloves over the top. 
not creepy hands
And I wore these all the way to work. So, in the end, all my aesthetic quibbles and qualms really paid off big time for me.  Oh yeah.

You know, this is really shaping up to be the worst story I have ever told on this blog, maybe in real life as well. Oh, I've barely even begun on it yet. Here comes the good part. You know that I like to listen to music on my bike. So, I had my extra special gloves on.  I had my headphones in. I had my raincoat on, hood up, helmet jammed on the top, and I was ready to go and so it was time to press play on the choonz. But earlier I hadn't been able to find a set of the headphones with the clicker thing on the wire, that you can use to control the volume and make the music start and stop. Instead I had a pair of the old kind that are only headphones. So this meant I needed to fish my phone out of my raincoat pocket and actually touch the screen to unlock it, open the music app, then press play.  

You remember I had my extra special gloves on at this point right.  No way was I taking those babies off. So I poked at the screen a bit with my creepy fingers. Nothing happened. I tried it again, still nothing, I still wasn't taking those babies off, so I took the only course of action that remained open to me.

I used my nose. I used my nose!!! You can't picture Diane Arbus or Joan Didion or Don Draper using her or his nose to operate her or his iPhone now can you??!

I had to have a few goes at getting the unlock code in and then I had to do quite a few pecks to get it to press play. But victory was mine in the end and it only cost me my last few atoms of self-respect and dignity.

So on the way home today, when I reached the large and well-stocked bike shop on the corner of Nicholson and Park...I did not go inside and purchase a pair of gloves. Winning at life. SAD!


jc said...

Ha. If it helps at all: I have some panniers which ARE pretty ugly, but on the other hand they are very well made (11 years and still going) and have a very cunning fixture that solidly attaches them to the rack, but comes free when you lift them. So it pleases me to use them. I bought a friend some in a more attractive, non-shiny fabric, but that was expensive.

But if I'm not carrying a lot of stuff, I just use my bike with a basket on the back. Can use a regular bag, don't have to carry around my huge and ugly pannier off the bike.

You are already 90% of the way to rainy cycling contentment with your mudguards, I don't know why more people don't have them.

lucy tartan said...

Dorian has one of those panniers and I borrowed it - it's pretty good - but yeah, I think I'll get a basket for the back. Def agree that mudguards are awesome. I suppose it could be an aesthetic thing, not having them? Not spoiling the line of your cool bike?