I am a bit of a complainer. The people who love me don’t tell me this but I’ve noticed it and that must mean it’s bad. When the temperature in the office drops a couple of degrees I’ll be sitting wrapped up in my spare jumper, shivering and pointing out that the radiators should really be on right now. I complain that the toilets are even colder but I’m grateful I don’t have to spend more time in the warehouse. At home in the evenings, the Galileo thermometer will be celebrating 20 degrees Celsius as I reach for the fleecy blanket to pull over my knees and double-socked feet. I also complain in the summer when the heat from the sun is intensified by whatever coating is on the windows, but not so vehemently.
With this in mind, I surprised myself at the start of the year with how untroubled I was by the snow. I bought myself a pair of thermal leggings, found some ski gloves and put knobbly tyres on my bike. I must confess, a lot of the impetus to ride through the snow and weather was the admiration of my colleagues, both those who were riding through it with me and those who had thrown in the towel when the weather turned, not only that I was still riding but also because I was just getting on with it.
The praise and admiration I valued most though, and which was most unexpected, was that which came from within. I was not just impressed I could just get on and do it; I was amazed! You know, if I can do this, what else can I do?
I’m remembering this (and writing about it) now because the weather is, once again, cold. I have pulled out all my cold weather gloves, started layering in a big way and worked out that a strange, tubular cloth I was awarded with at the end of my duathlon keeps my ears and neck warm at the same time but can’t be worn over my mouth due to condensation reasons, but I haven’t seen it for a week now so my neck is cold, although I have a special earwarmer band my boyfriend got me Spring last year.
The problem is I can’t get it right! My spring/autumn gloves are too thin so I can’t feel my fingers after a while but my winter ones have my hands all sweaty, even without the liners. I suppose I could probably track down a pair of gloves designed for conditions in between these but I’m running out of space on the shelf by the front door. And money.
On the way in I’ve tried padded shorts under thermal leggings and long-sleeved top under thermal jacket which is too cold as I walk my children to school and a bizarre combination of too cold in places, too hot in others as I approach my office. On the way home, under my work trousers/jeans I wear either the leggings (too warm) or the shorts (too cold) (having added the layer at lunchtime) and throw my thermal jacket on over whatever shirt or jersey/t-shirt combo I’m wearing.
My beloved glasses (currently sporting their clear lenses) mist up the second I stop at traffic lights or a junction, worn inside my earwarmers they create an opening for the wind, worn outside I constantly worry they will slide off my nose.
My boyfriend has similar issues over his outfits but doesn’t get so melodramatic as I do, apparently just throwing on a fairly standard uniform, dashing back into the house for a waterproof or extra layer if the weather is not as he expected.
So, you want a conclusion? Disappointingly, it has to be “figure out what works for you”, but I guess that’s what most of you were expecting. After extensive experimentation, I prefer to be cold. I will complain to anyone who stands still for long enough about how cold I am at the start of the journey (my boys have learned to run fast into school) but it’s better than getting two thirds of the way in and feeling the sweat trickle down into my sports bra, the weight of my rucksack pressing damp fabric to my back, my legs itching. So I’ve packed away the thermal leggings for the moment (I’ll save them for the snow), the top I’ll wear under my jacket will be thin, or absent entirely if I need a rain coat over the top and my glasses will go inside my earwarmers.