I learnt the hard way, so that you don’t have to – the consequences of cold weather cycling

Those that know me, will know that I have been unable to drive since about mid February 2013 when I had “The Incident” on my bike which, not only led to me not being able to drive, but also hilariously not-funny comments throughout the year from fellow cyclists and colleagues alike at the slightest whiff of it being even slightly cold.

To end all rumours now, I did not loose my licence through any kind of misdemeanour in my car!

So, this is how a bike ride ended up in me not being able to drive for 10 months…

It was February and most of you will remember that it was a really cold and really long winter. I took great pride in being an all-weather “proper” cyclist, venturing out in all weather, and have been on virtually every club run since I joined Ipswich BC, even when it snowed and there were just the three of us mad, but dedicated cyclists. So, it was February (again) and it was cold and it was time for the Saturday morning club ride. It looked like we would be lucky and it wouldn’t rain, but I packed my mac anyway, as you do in winter and wrapped up warm in my usual gear. There was a good group of us ready to head out to Hollow Tree’s and the promise of a log fire along with the obligatory coffee and cake.

Just before we left the meeting point, it started to cloud over and I took out my mac ready for a bit of a shower and we headed off. Less than a mile down the road and low-and-behold it starts to drizzle. And I realise that my mac is no longer waterproof.

It’s one of those light-weight cheap jackets that works well, and then, all-a-sudden and with no warning what-so-ever, it’s suddenly not waterproof anymore. Never mind, we’ve all ridden without waterproofs before!

I hadn’t, however, accounted for a sudden drop in temperature! When it stopped raining, the mercury dropped and now, not only was I wet, it was getting very very cold. When you cycle in the cold, it sometimes doesn’t matter how thick your gloves are, once you are cold, you cannot warm up. After only 10 miles 4 of us decided we were getting too cold and turned round to go back home. Can’t say I have ever been so pleased that we made that decision.

The way back was the worst experiences I’ve ever had.

I was getting colder and colder and finding that I couldn’t ride hard enough to warm up. In fact, I had no idea, but I was riding slower and slower. The other three had to keep slowing down and waiting for me, which can’t have been easy for them when they were cold too, but I could only think about getting back home. My hands, arms, legs and feet were so painful and it took all my concentration just to focus on getting back home. I can’t explain how this cold felt, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that cold is an understatement.

Eventually, we did get back and I remember getting back to my car. Then I remember getting off my bike and having a sudden urge to take off my wet kit, I may have made it back to the car, but it was still a 30min drive to get back home and I have no working heating in my car. I remember struggling out of my mac and that I couldn’t get my arm out of the sleeve. But that’s it, I don’t remember anything else until I came round and there was a paramedic talking to me and I was sat in the passenger seat of my car. I had managed to pass out with hypothermia!

So, that still doesn’t explain why I can’t drive. This happened between the paramedics leaving me in A&E and the 45mins I had to wait to see a doctor. As you can imagine, I had started to warm up by then and there was no conversation between the paramedics and the doctor. It was left to me to explain to the doctor what had happened. Naturally, he asked if I’d cycled very far (I assume he thought I’d over exerted myself – silly girl!). My reply of “no, only about 15miles” was met with a stern look as if I’d just tried to ride 50000 miles without a break. He then took my temperature and declared that I was not cold enough to be hypothermic. Well no, I’ve been warming up in tin foil for the past 45mins! So, naturally, I got diagnosed with possible epilepsy, which makes complete sense. Not! This means an automatic 6 month driving ban and 6 months of me trying to prove that I am not epileptic. Not an easy thing to prove!

So finally, got the all clear from the doctors, which took 6 months. The further 4 months after this was then spent waiting for the DVLA to process my application. And it would have been a lot longer than that had I not taken to phoning them up every day for 3 weeks for an update!

So, driving licence back and I can drive my car again.

So, naturally, I have my licence back, after 10 months, and 2 weeks later my car breaksdown. Thank you Mr. Sod and your stupid law! And for those of you that are about to tell me that you can’t keep a car sitting around, I have been paying insurance and road tax on it for 10 months so that my boyfriend could drive it at least twice a week to keep it going.

Thankfully, this could have been prevented. My advise is; don’t let the weather stop you from riding, but make sure you dress appropriately! It’s better to be warm than cold and don’t assume you will warm up when riding! I was wearing thermal gear, but my mistake was lack of waterproofs. Let this story be a lesson to you, Mr Shorts in January man!

So, if anyone has a working car they would like to give me, it would be greatly appreciated!

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