Not a whole lot of adventuring going on at the moment, more plodding round the same old loops when time and wellness allow and more waiting for winter proper to arrive (hurry up snow). None of which makes for good reading. So, inspired by Ira (who makes beautiful bikes and thinks a lot about adventures, and makes me think about them too every time his words pop up in my reader), here are four things which make winter better.
I went to Minnesota in February to cover the Arrowhead Ultra and learnt a lot about surviving cold weather. Since then I've pretty much given up on winter boots: I've tried all of them and none of them work for more than two hours, so the current long ride set up includes two pairs of socks, a pair of oversized Sealskins with a hole cut in the bottom, overshoes and a sheet of reflective insulation, plus a possible bright spark of an idea which involves sewing/sticking a pair of overshoes to a pair of tights and seeing if I can make the whole thing watertight (Yorkshire nights are long). For shorter rides when I don't want to deal with the whole clumsy mess, chemical shoe warmers are the answer. Toasty, simple, great. Except I've nearly run out of the American imports so need to source some hideously expensive UK ones. Damn.
Embrocation. If you're lucky enough to be able to use the full strength stuff without volcanic skin eruption then consider yourself blessed (and try putting it on the back of your hands/top of your feet - The Enforcer swears it works better than wool). If you can't, like me, then La Gazzetta Della Bici's Verde oil is ace: much milder, smells gorgeous and still does a good job of loosening things up if you will insist on going out in knickers when the temperature is hovering around freezing because your legs look better in them than they do in tights. It adds another layer to the particular smell of a cyclist's home, too: lemony-eucalyptus, WD40, Persil and something slow-cooking in the oven. Lovely to open the front door to.
My sheepskin boots were a gift from a dear friend who clearly knows me very well (or has just been on the receiving end of my icy feet one too many times). They get worn pretty much every day of autumn, winter and spring and have been known to make the odd trip to the post office by mistake. Yes, they're granny-esque but they're warmer and much tougher than either slippers or Uggs. They've saved me dropping screwdrivers, a hammer and the filleting knife through my toes on various occasions, too. Maybe they should make a steelie version for cosy workshop use.
Proper tea in a proper tea pot. Another gift from another friend and one which has weaned me off my bad coffee habit. At least until elevenses time, anyway. Rituals are one thing (kettle on whilst I potter about in PJs, pot brewing whilst I get washed and dressed, tea drunk with the three-biscuit breakfast over the sifting of the inbox, flickr and twitter of a morning), pleasure is another (Booths have a fabulous English Breakfast blend, not so keen on the Russian from the new shop in town but really looking forward to cracking open the "espresso of teas" Assam). Bone china for breakfast, pint mug at teatime.