The long hot cycling summer of ’76

retro cycling

As a vocal worshipper of cloudless skies and prolonged, predictable sunshine, I often berate myself for my decision to put down such deep roots in the north of England. My home town rests on a latitude not noted for its idyllic summer cycling conditions.

Every year, like a child not yet sullied by the cynicism of reality, the summer months approach and I find myself surprised that conditions in the south of France are somewhat better than those in northern Lancashire.

Even when I do manage to lower my expectations, the summer weather disappoints.

“Well, we had that hot spell in May didn’t we…it’s not been that bad, has it?” people say to me.

I remind them that the “hot spell” consisted of three days where temperatures hit 22C and showers were light. And this was mid-week, so I was at work, and unable to affect my fabled early dart.

I also remind them that I am a cyclist and they are not, and so our definitions differ.

If we did have a genuine “hot spell”, also known in the south of France as “July, August, and half of September,” they would only waste it anyway, with their hobbies and their social lives.

Some would say that I have a weather-related chip on my shoulder; that my expectation of spending long summer months cycling and cultivating tan lines, of leaving the house carefree in short sleeves and shorts, is unrealistic and irrational.

They go on to explain that my tendency to take the weather forecast personally is the behaviour of a petulant child.

They’re right.

I DO have a chip on my shoulder, and I sometimes behave like a petulant child.

As I am reminded regularly by aging family members, I was born at the end of the long hot summer of 1976; the longest, hottest summer in living memory, I’m told. A summer of dried up reservoirs, hosepipe bans, and parched garden grass.

That this happened whilst I was being cultivated in my mummy’s tummy (born September) might be assumed to have shaped my character, and my inbuilt yearning for bike rides in the hot summer sun.

Certainly my love for bikes came young; legend has it that, even before I could talk I had a view on gear ratios, and showed a clear preference for Campagnolo over Shimano.

But there’s more to it than this.

The truth is I am aggrieved that this meteorological miracle happened just before I was born, and hasn’t happened since.

What kind of event are we talking here…once every 50 years?

So I’ve got to wait another 10 years.

If the long hot summer of ’76 had come early, and had been the long hot summer of ’67, then this year would see it’s 50 year return, with a glorious summer of cycling and tan-lines for me.

Because that’s how weather works, right?

Instead, 2017 is sure to be the long variable summer of patchy temperatures, intermittent rain, and never quite gathering the confidence to put the winter kit away for another year.

As people like to remind me – this is the north of England, after all.

(Image: pexels.com)


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10 comments

  1. Thank you for bringing back some great memories – I’d just finished finals at Cardiff University and spent the next few weeks on the beach at Barry Island or on the Gower Peninsular. Happy days!
    If everesting had been invented, I’d have been too sensible to even consider doing one – where did it all go wrong over the next 51 years?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I vividly remember the summer of ’76 – I fell I love with a divorced woman – my secretary – stopped cycling for a couple of years.
    As it’s early summer (27°C) here in the Pyrenees my tan lines are good – though my legs are suffering after a 13 km climb at an average of 9%% in just over an hour – God, it hurt ….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi RT, You need to spend some serious time in oz, One would go home in a nice shade of black. when my wheels leave tracks in the tar its time to pack it up for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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