YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT
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’ (metaphorically speaking).
Of course its not all doom and gloom and there will be those rare 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 might be more about psyching yourself up for spells of rain hitting you in the face so hard it hurts. Once your out there though 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 absorb every morsel of escaping heat you can.
“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
Winter can offer an equally rewarding period if we choose to accept and embrace it like Mr Ruskin. With a little motivation we can even utilise it as an opportunity to try and experience new things outside: Ride in the snow, watch the sunrise, sleep in a bothy etc. For those of us that are willing to put on an extra layer or two, grab a head torch and get out there, winter really can be one of the best times to be in the great outdoors.