Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
- John Ruskin
Staring out of windows, constant visits to BBC weather, and outdoor gear gathering dust - an all too familiar scene during the winter months. Rain, Rain, Rain. It can often feel like theres been a cold tap left running upstairs for weeks on end, and so we are encouraged to ‘wait it out’ to stay in, but eventually we have to brave it for our own sanity. In the famous words of a well loved book from my childhood ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’...
‘You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you can't go around it, you have to go through it.'
Such is winter. You can stand there looking at it from behind a window pane sipping on a hot chocolate in front of the fire in your onesie, or you can get your feet wet, go through it and catch your bear.
Of course its not all doom and gloom and there will be those pristine days full of crisp mountain air topped off with eye watering displays of light dancing off snow dusted peaks. But for the rest of the time, it will probably be more about psyching yourself up for spells of rain hitting you in the face so hard it hurts. Once your out there though (on a bike anyway) you'll be having more fun splashing through puddles and sliding round corners than you ever had putting on that extra layer of suncream in summer.
On a mountain bike varied weather offers up a test of ones skills in negotiating and interacting with a variety of changing surface conditions. Wet weather breathes new life into familiar trails; moving rocks, eroding paths and changing the consistency of the ground to provide us with fresh challenges and new line choices.
Continuing our outdoor activities through the winter months is vital for maintaining our relationship with the seasonal change. Being at the mercy of the elements demands a more respectful outlook and consequently inspires a degree of appreciation, and relief when spring does finally arrive.
Although many of us will be forced into a mild state of hibernation through the winter months it's all about making the initial effort to get out there. To leave behind the comforts of our Netflix series's, and our warm homes in favour of immersing ourselves in the season that we can so easily lose touch with.
Living close to the Lake District where I spend most of my free time, you either find the good in being wet, cold and covered in mud or you don't. It’s a state of mind that you have to embrace to really enjoy it. I find the cold and rain ignites your sensory receptors like a cold shower. It really does make you feel alive, and I have to admit some of my most enjoyable and memorable rides have been knee deep in the 'worst' of weather.
And perhaps the most important thing: it makes that post ride brew something to behold, something to celebrate, and all the more enjoyable as you wrap yourself around it in an attempt to return the feeling back into those numb hands.
Winter can offer an equally rewarding period if we choose to accept it, and with a little extra motivation we can even utilise it as an opportunity to try/experience new things outside. For those of us that are willing to put on an extra layer or two, grab a head torch and brave the elements, winter can be one of the best times to be in the great outdoors. Quiet trails, epic light, and snow dusted peaks (hopefully) offer an experience like no other.
Over the coming months I aim to document some of the best things about being outside in winter. Sure theres going to be plenty of rain, but theres also a lot we can look forward to!