We’ve been doing a bit of it lately, possibly because of, rather than despite, the cold. Bare with me, so to speak.
I am deeply aware that we are at a time of year when, certainly in recent times, there can be precious little Saturday afternoon football to watch, at least for those of us who do it in the raw, without under pitch heating, floodlights or any technology whatsoever. Last year it was flooded pitches, before that snow, ice, deep-frozen for months. Doing it in the raw, he’s at it again, I hear you say.
But this year the weather has been kind, so far. Not only is the football not at risk, yet, but the old Grasshopper is doing the rounds quite regularly. And that means, by definition, that there are days when the wind or the rain, preferably both, are merely threatening.
Today was no exception; though as I returned under skies turning quickly to sealskin as the cairns and the blades that top the hills began to hide behind lowering clouds, I did begin to wonder. Whilst the roads are on the manky side, especially where the tractor wheels have been spinning debris from the fields, the air has been crisp. Indeed grateful we are that the roads are yet to be coated in grit and salt to corrode the lowest slung bum – mind you precious few of the roads on the usual circuits are troubled by the gritter these days, but I digress.
In The Buff, that was the topic. Ah yes, the crisp air, the asthmatic chest. Just as I need to protect myself from humidity and other people’s central heating, so too must I ensure that the winter air is warmed before ingested. At the footie a scarf is needed, especially at Boy Urchin’s Friday night training which goes on for ages; goes on till they can be too tired for a match kick off just 12 hours later. Anyway, it’s the breathing.
So just as I need to breathe through a scarf when the days are cold, so The Buff does the trick on the bike. It’s one of those multi-purpose, often multi-coloured, tubes of cloth that can be worn on the head, piratical if you like, round the neck, or as an ear warmer. But for the asthmatic cyclist the answer is to cover the mouth, the nose too at times, and have warmed up air hitting the lungs.
And of course on the hills in these parts, when the legs burn on the rise, or the lorry is met on the bend at the fastest part of the descent, deep inhalations through the cloth come regularly. But the outcome, and one to note for cyclists with asthma, is that the recovery is quicker, the need for medication negated, and the enjoyment of the buzzard circling above, or the finches in the hedges, can be all you need to worry about. Them and the tractors coming round the bend.
So the cycling’s good even yet, whilst the weather holds.
And you thought I was going to talk about Fiona Fullarton in Why Not Bangkok. Honestly some minds. If I remember correctly Ms Fullarton’s bike had no saddle. Another reason to enjoy the Grasshopper. Go on, do it in the buff.