Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Whatever The Weather

Oh dear!
I am on a bit of a cycle commute theme at the moment and I know one of the main things which people say stops them cycling is the weather and for 'weather' most people are refering to the rain. As a SCUBA diver and hill walker of old I believe the elements are just something to be tamed. I think it was the late Alfred Wainwright who put it so well: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing". And what goes for undersea and hill top can equally be applied to cycle commuting in my opinion.

Despite living in Manchester, which is typically regarded as a rainy place (although less than the UK average), I cycle commute between 3-5 times most weeks, which is 6-10 distinct chances of being cold and wet. I have never not cycled because of the weather. In three years I have gone to work in the car less than ten times and that was usually because I was going to relatives a few hours away straight from work. 

I am not superhuman and neither do I have very expensive, weather dispersing clothing. On the top half I usually wear a breathable layer or two +/- a cycling jacket/jersey. The bottom half is adorned in a pair of quick drying shorts or tracksters. I wear multi-activity shoes and if it is very wet I wear some waterproof socks (I do not like cold, wet feet). I usually use cycling gloves of some description and these get thicker depending on the weather. When the temp' falls below 5 degrees Celsius I start to wear a thin balaclava and in the snow/sleet/hail I don ski goggles. Of course it helps hugely I use a practical bike with full length mudguards and flaps for commuting.

Even so, on most commutes I could happily cycle in a tee shirt, fleece and jeans if I was so inclined. The perception, particularly of the amount it rains, is greatly exaggerated by people as far as I am concerned. Maybe some are just looking for excuses? So, I have a new project. Over the next year I am going to record the weather on each of my commutes and publish this on a monthy basis. 

Why just the commutes? Because I cannot choose the times and am forced to cycle whatever the weather, rather than when I cycle for pleasure. Who am going to convince/persuade by this? Probably no one at all but it will satisfy me and hopefully be of interest to fellow cycle commuters. Roll on December.
A bit of overkill?


  1. I read an article on a cycling blog somewhere (can't remember which one) about the statistical probability of getting wet on a cycle commute. It was quite small if I recall correctly, something like 1 chance in 50 I think.

    I will try and find the article and post a link.

  2. Bloody hell that first picture is making me cringe - I like the second one but then I'm also a fan a Sir Clive Sinclair so like most things eccentric!

    The perception, particularly of the amount it rains, is greatly exaggerated by people as far as I am concerned.

    Yes totally agree Daz! I wonder whether that's because the weather always looks worse through a pane of glass - whether that be a windscreen or a double glazed window :>/

  3. This isn't the link I was originally thinking about, but I should have known that David Hembrow would have something relevant:


    The website he links to is in Dutch, but its easy to get the point.

  4. It's a shame that some of your commutes aren't going to be mornings, in my experience it rains much less frequently in the early morning compared to the rest of the day, although this is purely anecdotal from my days as a cycling paperboy.

  5. Don

    Thanks for the link. I seem to remember reading the Hembrow post before but couldn't place it until now. I knew others had done similar before. I will find it interesting to see how Manchester fares over a year.


    I think the weather puts lots of people off lots of things. Seeing its raining when they look out of the centrally heated homes, its easier to decide to take the car rather than walk/cycle or even wait a while.

    Mr C

    Half of my commutes will be between 06.45 and 08.00hrs, whether on day or night shifts. Which bit of the morning were you meaning? LOL.

    It's a good point though. I will break down my findings by time of day as well.

  6. Great post! I personally used to suffer the cold in winter terribly, I remember stacking on layers to then still freeze at the bus stops waiting for the never-showing-buses ;P But since my regular commute, all year round, I am less cold, I think it's less cold and I get ill a lot less (the last bit is mostly due to sharing an overcrowded bus with ill people and a better immune system from regular cycling, but then you know that a lot better than me lol!).

    Look forward to your commute diary!

  7. I bike commute all the time in the rain too. Although I also have a folding bike, so if it's nice in the morning and starts raining during the day and I am not prepared (clothing-wise) for the ride home, I can just take the bike on the train with me, and not have to worry about getting all wet.