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Four seasons Spring When the clocks go forward on the last weekend of March, spring evenings become suddenly lighter for much longer. It’s an ideal time to start commuting, since you can ride there and back in daylight. If you might conceivably need lights, take them with you anyway to avoid being left in the dark by a delay. March proverbially comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, with blustery winds giving way to more settled conditions. Regardless, the weather invariably picks up through March and into April, with May often one of the nicest months of the year. It rains less in spring than in winter – even April is one of the drier months – yet it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by a blue sky morning and then get soaked by a squally shower on the way home. Isn’t that what a showerproof jacket is for? No. ‘Showerproof’ tends to mean ‘you’ll be okay if it’s spitting’. In a heavy shower or sustained rain, most showerproof jackets will leak like sieves. Keep your waterproof jacket in your commuter bag until you’re sure, or just continue wearing it. You can prevent overheating by shedding a mid-layer, wearing the jacket over a long-sleeve shirt or baselayer and omitting a jersey. Better ventilated jackets, made from more breathable fabrics and with openings under the arms or across the back, cost more but can also be worn comfortably on warmer days. Wind is arguably a worse enemy than rain. A headwind slows you down and saps your energy. Allow yourself extra time to get to work and use an easier gear. If you try to do your commute in your usual time, you’ll arrive a tired, sweaty mess. Beware sudden crosswinds when passing gaps in rural hedges or street openings between tall buildings.

Summer Summer is your reward for riding to work the rest of the year. June and July are usually fairly warm and dry. August tends to be wetter than spring, partly due to summer storms that can leave roads awash. Best not take those mudguards off! The problem with summer, if you can call it that, is that the extra warmth means you’re more likely to sweat. The best way to avoid getting sweaty is to avoid wearing a backpack. Put your luggage on the bike instead. Your

Keep your waterproof jacket in your commuter bag until you’re sure, or just continue wearing it SPRING

clothing may be light, airy and breathable, but it will be none of those things if you cover your back with a bag. If you commute in cycling gear and you’ve got showers at work, you can ride as hard as you like. You’re getting changed anyway. No showers? Pack some wet wipes or take a flannel in a plastic bag. Spruce up by washing your face, armpits and groin in the loo, then applying some fresh deodorant. If you’re riding in the clothes you’ll wear at work, slow down. Undo a button. It’s worth having spare underwear in your bag or at work, so if you do end up getting uncomfortably sweaty, you’ve got something to change into. Use your wet wipes/flannel first. Shorts are an option in summer, either Lycra or something looser and


Cycle Commuter #17  
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