Month: November 2014

The great discovery of overshoes

There is no way November is an autumn month. Not in Scotland. It’s wet and gloomy and oh so cold and dismal. As far as I’m concerned winter is officially here. Not that I’m getting off my bike or anything. It’s just that winter cycling presents its own set of challenges, and in my second year of embracing the cold and wet, there are lots of things I’ve learned.

Take, for example, the extremities. My hands and feet suffer. They are cold. While my trunk is roasty toasty due to layering prowess, my neck is a sweaty mess of buff mixed with collar, and my eyes are too busy gushing water for me to notice how numb my face is, the poor toes and fingers are not happy.

A decent pair of winter gloves coupled with liners and those microwave hand warmer things have given my paws a bit of relief. But my other paws have been freezing. Despite multiple pairs of socks, winter boots and the fabulous suggestion of wrapping my feet in tinfoil like some horrific baking accident, I’ve found it difficult to keep the old plates of meat even lukewarm.

So, as my cycling evolution from enthusiastic pootler progresses to bike-crazed madwoman, today I hit a milestone in my increasingly bike-demented journey. I have finally discovered the magic of the humble overshoe.

Now, stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. “Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? That’s what overshoes are for, you daft woman…”. And you’re right. I am a daft woman. But I’ve avoided wearing them unless absolutely necessary because of this reason:

My sexy overshoes

My sexy overshoes. (About as sexy as a deep vein thrombosis.)

Yes. They are the ugliest things going. They are furry condoms for your feet. Look at them. Ugh, they are so visually awful I’ve avoided them at all costs, despite having purchased them at the start of the year. I do like my cushion, though.

These overshoes in particular have provided me with a case of ankle muffin top. Once all the velcro has been velcroed, my legs spill over the top of the overshoe as a godawful cliff of fat, wobbly ankle. So I’ve generally not been too keen on sporting them as I nip about the town, otherwise sensibly clad and without all that official “lycra cycling gear” that sets you apart in people’s heads as a creepy weirdo on a bike. (As an aside, non bike people I’ve chatted to think cycling clobber singles you out as some insane red-light-jumping, old-lady-hitting speed freak.)

However, today I finally succumbed to the furry feet condoms. And now I understand why folk think they are furry feet condoms with a purpose. My tootsies were warm the whole way home! And a lovely, pleasant warmth also – not sweaty heat that creates a cheesy stench comparable to the compost bin, but rather a cosy central-heating-and-cuppa warmth for my entire 6 mile journey.

The brogues vs the overshoes

The brogues vs the overshoes. Can there ever be a happy relationship?

So I kinda “get” them now. But they still look atrocious and I’m not happy with that at all because (and call me strange) I like to wear regular clothes when I cycle around town. You know, so that I look like an actual person and help to demonstrate that cycling is a normal thing to do. Overshoes definitely don’t give that vibe.

Surely there is a market for women that want cosy trotters but don’t want to look like they have highly visible bin bags wrapped around their ankles?  If you know of any nice/cool/fun/a bit less fugly overshoes, please do let me know. Please. I’d probably buy them!

 

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A wee bit of cycling on Skye

The weather has turned and the daylight has diminished, so it’s been a bit more difficult to squeeze in long, leisurely cycle rides. Over the summer period I would go out and explore different routes until around 830 in the evening. Ahhh, lovely indeed. Of course, it’s still fine to cycle over the winter period but I do find it frustrating that the daylight hours have disappeared by the time I emerge from my work at around the 5 o’clock mark.

I raise this irritation as I can’t do exploring cycles just now, like my Skye adventure in August. It was the perfect time to enjoy this amazing island and I’d love to visit it again to try some different routes. I only did a short ride on a rental bike with the bloke and covered 19 miles in total but it was beautiful, so I wanted to share it.

Cycling on Skye.

Cycling on Skye.

Sadly, Skye has a thundering great A road that slices across the east side of the island. It’s terrifying for cyclists and I do not recommend using this as a route option. We were on it only very briefly and I found myself swearing like a sailor and gesticulating like a string puppet from the coach, lorry and car traffic that zoomed past us without any consideration. But once you get away from this heavily used road, things are very different.

The minor roads and tracks are a haven for cycling. The scenery is spectacular. The locals are friendly and patient and give you plenty of space and time when you’re chugging slowly up a hill.

Passing place on Skye.

Passing place on Skye. There are lots of these!

We saw more sheep than motorised vehicles on our morning ride. This is the way it should be, right? It surely beats wiggling down through traffic on a daily commute.

Sheepish traffic

Sheepish traffic

Even my other half, he who is considerably less excited about bikes and cycling than I am, enjoyed the ride. We got rained on and the terrain was undulating (read nippy wee hills) but he still managed the route with only a couple of grimaces and mostly smiles. Good times indeed.

M'oan then

M’oan then

Here’s the route if you are interested. We hired the bikes from Island Cycles. The bikes were (ahem) basic and rattled like a baby’s toy, but they did the job! The chap was pleasant. He gave us a backpack with pump, spares and tyre levers, which was also very helpful.

skye coastal view

It’s the coast!

If you have never been to Skye, you should go. I only spent a couple of days on the island but I’d love to revisit to see more. Other than a cycle, I did a walk along the coast, which was also beautiful and only marred by the endless stream of midges trying to eat me for their lunch. It’s not a problem on the bike because you’re going too fast for the wee shites to keep up. But walking pace? Oof!

Anyway. Now the dark and the cold and the misery is here, it’s not totally out of bounds to squeeze in cycles like this, but I do miss the light more than anything. Roll on spring time… Only another four months to go!