Biking Behaviour (part 24) – Scott of the Antarctic

When racing, the pro-cyclists dress like they mean business. But a training ride, especially for the skinny climbers with barely an ounce of body fat between them, is not a time to knowingly under-dress.

Legend has it that in days gone by cyclists from warmer climes would train wearing bobble hats, thermal layers, and all manner of added insulation, in the kind of weather that me and my mates here in the north of England would consider an absolute scorcher.

Y’know, about 17 ˚C and only the ‘threat’ of rain.

Captain Scott
Captain Scott and his team (Image: via Wikimedia)

Although I’m not the type to get my dazzlingly white legs out at the first hint of early spring sunshine, I don’t hang about.

Once it’s vaguely ‘shorts weather’ the legs come out, and stay out. That’s me for the year. I’d rather be ever so slightly chilly than mistakenly wrapped up to the nines in 17 degrees of ferocious UK heat.

But around May you always spot those cautious types, layered up like a polar explorer ready to strike out across the icecap, rather than dressed for a gentle 30 mile loop around the lanes.

While you and your mates are happily preening in the sun, showing off your summer kit and trying to ignore the slight headache that the glare from your translucent white legs has brought on, you spot them up ahead.

The rippling heat haze around them is your first clue that they’re overdressed.

‘Look at this fella…it’s Scott of the Antarctic’, some wag pipes up, to take the mind off the goose bumps and the slight chill that all of you feel, but none of you admit.

As you pass this well-wrapped fellow you patronisingly assume he is an old Luddite, stubbornly unaware of the concept of both smart phone and weather app.

In fact, so wrongly dressed is he that you half wonder whether he’s even aware that some people get paid to stand in front of a weather map on TV and wave their arms around.

www.ragtimecyclist.com
Ragtime Cyclist under-dressed on a grey day

Either that or the long tights, winter jacket, and thermal headband are part of an extreme weight loss plan to shed some winter timber through sweat alone.

Or maybe he’s an old pro cyclist for whom old habits die hard? Perhaps he’s a Spaniard for whom any temperature less than 20 degrees count as ‘winter conditions’?

As you shiver slightly in bib shorts and minimal race-cut short sleeve jerseys (Christmas presents, first chance we’ve had to wear them), he probably internally derides you for your hopeless optimism and lack of weather protection.

When riding in May in the north of England there is every chance that, within the hour, the survival situation that he has clearly dressed for will predictably arrive.

‘Look at these fools in their shorts…’ he’ll be thinking.

Before you know it, it’s hailing sideways.

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