September 7, 2019 at 21:46 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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The weather riding home last night was apocalyptic. Dark, ominous clouds scudded across the sky. And a wild wind blew. Not the usual stormy wind that presages a change, with a cooling aspect. And not a steady breeze bringing moisture from the ocean. No, this was a hot wind, dry and dangerous, swirling and capricious. This was not a natural wind.

One of the interesting things about commuting to work on a bicycle is that you get to experience the weather. Every day, I ride for nearly two hours out in the open – rain or shine, heat or cold. Many of my friends an acquaintances I think truly never really experience the weather. They move from one controlled environment to another – home, car, office, shops – and only venture outside if the weather is ‘nice’. And, as a result, they do not seem to know anything about the weather, and how it is changing.

Not that I am claiming some kind of special insight. I am, after all, living a very privileged life – most of which is in the bubble. But at least, in those minutes on my bike, I have one connection with what is going on in the world.

And it is noticeable what is going on. It has been getting warmer and warmer. I have thrown away all my winter cycling jerseys, as I no longer wear them. Ten years ago, I wore them for two or three months of the year. I can’t remember the last time I needed leg warmers. After a hot day, the cool change that flows across the land seems to rarely come any more.

Like many people, global heating and climate change are of great concern to me. I read about islands disappearing into the sea, coral reefs dying, ice melting at unprecedented rates, forests and tundra burning, massive hurricanes, savage droughts.

But last night, I really felt it. The collapse of our climate is here. That wind was the result of unimaginable amounts of energy being added into our environment; heating seas and lands heaving under a suffocating blanket of CO2. This is not a drill, and this is not a problem for the future.

I don’t know what I can do. Like most of us, I am paralysed into inaction by the enormity of it all. But at least I can do this one small thing. To tell those people I know who live indoors that something is very wrong out there, right outside the window.

There’s no such thing as bad weather…

July 21, 2011 at 20:56 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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…only the wrong shoes, as I found out today. Decked out in head to toe GoreTex, I braved Sydney’s wettest seventy-two hours for sixty-nine years to cycle into the city to meet someone. (I do love the way the SMH manages to find some sort of weather record virtually every single day. Things like ”The most rain on a day following a dry day during a week when the wind only blew in a southerly direction since 1972!‘ All good stuff – if there’s one things that has survived from the colonial days it is the oh-so-British obsession with the weather.)

I was wearing my walking boots, as I thought they would be waterproof, but alas they were not. Or rather, they boots themselves were, but the action of pedalling caused a gap to appear around my ankles – a gap into which large quantities of water flowed, neatly directed off my waterproof over-trousers. There weren’t many other cyclists out there tonight, but I did see one who perhaps had a better idea – he was wearing board shorts and Crocs. I guess if your feet are going to get wet anyway, you might as well have shoes that allow the water to flow out, as opposed my my boots which gradually filled up with water. By the time I got home I was carrying my two own private puddles around with me – squelch squelch squelch.

Notwithstanding my wet feet, the rest of me was warm and dry, and I did get a certain satisfaction cruising along, feeling very superior to the pedestrians scuttling along huddled under umbrellas and motorists enduring the inevitable gridlock that seems to accompany wet weather.

Whilst I was (mostly) waterproof, however, my bike lights were not. This is a bug-bear of mine. I have two lights on the back of the Radish, both reasonably expensive affairs from reputable bike shops, and both of which claim to be ‘waterproof’. Well, they are not. Take them out in wet weather, and water finds its way into the contacts. This causes them to switch on and off at random. It was frustrating enough to get back to my bike (which had been parked outside in the rain) to find one of the lights had evidently been on all day and the battery had gone flat. However, it was rather more concerning to arrive home and find that one of them had switched itself off during the journey, and the other had gone from solid to flashing mode. I don’t really want to be riding along in the dark with no tail lights in this kind of weather. Can anyone suggest a genuinely waterproof option?

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