City cycling clinic

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  • How cyclists can beat the elements

    The smugness with which a certain type of cyclist proclaims ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing’ makes me want to knock them off their waterproof perch. The merest wisp of precipitation, and out comes the bin-bag couture of nylon trousers, foul-weather cagoule and waterproof haversack. It’s not just water that they repel – all notions of style go flying too. If I suspect a deluge, I’ll often skip the pedal power for the day and take public transport. But as soon as I climb aboard a bus that’s sluggishly lurching into town I realise it’s a false economy: traffic is always ten times worse when it rains during rush hour, as everyone else tries to dodge the puddles too. A downpour certainly makes cycling less than pleasant, particularly along Hackney Road and Cambridge Heath Road towards Clapton, where the runoff gathers in filthy roadside pools through which cyclists must plough. But considering the average cycle time is only 22 minutes for a four-mile London journey, perhaps I should aim to be more robust. And for all the rain it appears to suffer, London actually only had 116 days of rain last year. Since a heavy downpour never seems to last longer than 20 minutes, the best solution is to wait it out. For fair- and foul-weather cyclists alike, that’s blue-sky thinking.

    Route rating

    Miles 3.4 Hackney Rd to Clapton RdAverage cycle time 15 minsCalories burned 144Times splashed 37

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