Shelley’s Ode to the Wild West Wind could have been written for today’s commute. The “breath of autumn’s being” was in full effect. The old adage (less poetic but equally true) of ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes’ also came to mind as I pushed aside weak minded notions of driving to work and readied myself for another bike commute.
October and November to me is always like a hurried set change between acts. The languid ambiance of summer is rudely dismantled by a brutal road crew of wind, hail and rain. And so it was today. I was out of bed at 6am, dark outside and the sound of heavy rain pelting against the roof and windows. The trees outside were whipping around as I filled the kettle and made a quick breakfast.
While the kettle was boiling I got dressed for action – long sleeved base layer and waterproof done up to the neck. Waterproof pants stretched on over big boots, gloves at the ready. In my bag my t-shirt and merino jumper awaited for a quick change once at work.
I poured boiling water into the cafetiere and then checked the bike for punctures; all the while the rain continued to clatter like gravel against the front door. I took my favourite big green mug, added a little milk and then poured the coffee. The next five minutes is my favourite time. The rest of the house still slumbering, the world outside slowly waking up, a cup of coffee warming the hands and the anticipation of a ride ahead. Coffee drunk, I took a cup upstairs to Mrs Everyday Cyclist and kissed her goodbye before making final preparations for lift-off.
Coffee mug on the drainer, bag on back and cinched tight, helmet on, lights on. A red blinky on the back, a repurposed LED torch up front and a white blinky attached to my bag, for a moment the hallway was alight like Christmas. A cursory final squeeze of the tyres and check of the brakes for luck. I opened the door and the drama of the morning weather rushed in – the house took a deep draught of autumn’s brew. I wheeled the bike out, clicked the door shut quietly behind me and at once I was engaged with the elements. Street still dark under sodium light I shot down the hill, spray fizzing from my tyres, wind lashing shoals of heavy raindrops at face and body. But inside by waterproofs, gloves and big boots, I was warm and dry as I pushed on into town, uphill, into the wind, feeling 100 percent alive.