Winter has arrived.
As the Norwegians supposedly say: "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes."
So, rather than retreating to the masochism of the turbo trainer and the digital zaniness of Zwift to prepare for next summer's sportives, pull on the right kit and get out in the cold.
It is not only possible, I'd argue that in some ways it's better than summer riding.
Don't believe me? Here's 10 reasons to embrace cold weather riding:
1. Kit. Cyclists like kit. When it's cold you need more of it. Overshoes, neck warmers, hats, gloves, vests, jackets, base layers and so on. The short summer conversation of "nice jersey, where did you get it?" is replaced by lengthy discussions of the best combinations of layers, glove systems and the benefits of merino wool as the miles flow by.
2. Winter cycling is flattering. Hold on, stay with me. Bib tights use thicker material than summer shorts and tend to come up higher on the torso. Result — control-top compression flattening your gut. Any untamed bulges due to excessive Christmas turkey and booze are usually hidden by the layers above anyway.
3. Leg hair. Don't bother to shave your legs boys and girls as no one is going to see them. One chore less for those who normally go hairless and no self-conciousness for those of us that don't run the Mach 3 over the guns.
4. Sun tan lotion. No need. Added bonus is the lack of the narrow rings of sun burn around the biceps and quads post ride from where your jersey and shorts ride up a fraction to expose 1/8th of an inch of unprotected skin.
5. Views. Seriously, once the leaves are off the trees even your favourite and most often repeated rides offer up new sights and perspectives.
6. Slower. Not universally true, but winter rides — even the weekend group hammerfest — tend to be slower than in the hot months. It's the off-season, everyone's bundled up, winter bikes, hardier tires. There are lots of reasons and it's nice not to be quite so near the ragged edge hanging on to the back of the group.
7. Better skills. Due to the self-selection of the hardy rider, winter rides tend to be less sketchy in my experience. If you are committed enough to pedal out when it's near freezing it's almost certain you do enough annual miles to be able to handle your bike properly and know the etiquette of riding in a group. The fair-weather dilettantes and newcomers will return in May.
8. Post-ride warmth. If your kit is right you should not feel too cold while on the bike, but the sensation of holding a hot coffee in your cupped hands as you feel your sweat turning cold and then the sensation of the hot shower hitting the shoulder blades is hard to top.
9. Non-cyclists. Their reaction is priceless when they learn that you were out there while they were turning up the heater in the SUV on their way to a 3,000 calorie brunch. "Today? You're insane!'
10. The feeling. You did it when others didn't.