Cyclo-therapy: 'There are few things more spiriting than a crisp morning cycle ride through London’s befrosted parks'

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The Independent Online

The bad-weather cyclists are out in force in London.

You can generally make them out by... actually, no, you can't make them out. They are buried beneath layers of Lycra, puffs of chilled air emerging from behind balaclava'd scarves, helmets perched atop furry hats... The time it must take them to get kitted up, they might as well take the Tube. But that, of course, is missing the point. Because there are few things more spiriting than a crisp morning ride through the city's befrosted parks.

The question of what to wear, however, is a more complex one. Winter get-ups are peculiar to the person, not the weather. There are the cyclists in deerstalker hats and full-length military coats who won't let an oily chain get in the way of a decent outfit; the gloveless, hatless ones who have presumably popped down from the Arctic for the day to enjoy some clement weather; and, of course, the speed guys in tights (they will naturally refer to them as leggings, but a quick Google reveals them to be called "Waist Tights" – or even more marvellously, "Bib-Tights").

My own cold-weather clobber consists of earmuffs (hats, even in these biting times, are too stifling for me) and two layers of gloves (silk inners, chunky weatherproof numbers on top) which still only succeed, 10 minutes into the ride, in bringing on frostnipped fingers, which then require five minutes' pacing of the office car park going through the digital equivalent of the bends. But that's it for the special stuff. No sweat-wicking base layer, no Pearl Izumi Gavia Vector Jersey (no really, I checked). Just whatever I'm wearing to work that day plus standard yellow bike jacket. Not because I'm angling to be a girl Bear Grylls, but because 30 minutes of cycling is Warm Work, no matter the outside temperature. In fact – fair-weather cyclists take note – I'd even venture that a cold snap is the perfect time to get on your bike: the air's cleaner, there are fewer fellow cyclists to share the road with, and you're unlikely to arrive at work in a lather. Granted, you may not want to sally forth when the roads have turned all ice-rinky, but if the streets are dry and the inclines gentle, you're most likely in for a treat. Not that I'm encouraging you, mind. Part of the pleasure of that crisp morning ride is to see an almost empty bike path unfurl itself before you through the park.