October in Cornwall is very much a month of transition as the trails turn to slop, and, as the early season storms sweep in off the Atlantic, the wind charts change from summer's cool tones of blue and green, to the oranges and reds of winter. It is certainly an interesting month, so here is something of a photographic riding diary.

With the small seasonal temperature variation, and generally damp, mild climate, the seasons here in Cornwall feel quite binary; it’s either summer, or it isn’t. With September often feeling like a continuation of summer, October always feels to me like a slightly awkward, deceptive month. October is emphatically not summer, so logic dictates that it must belong to the other season. Early October however often features sunny skies, and some warm sunshine interspersed with the rain, lulling one into a sense of being OK about the winter ahead. While out riding the trails are muddy, but not too muddy, rain is frequent but not too persistent, and the winds are often fresh, but not always. “This is alright, I can cope with a few months of this” says the mind. October is however merely a month of transition; by the end of the month the rain feels persistent, the trails have turned to slop, the sun disappears for days at a time behind a damp, grey veil, and the wind charts change from summer’s cool tones of blue and green, to the oranges and reds of winter. It is certainly an interesting month, and the key to the winter is to embrace the mud, the wind, and the rain. Even more so this year I think.

I have occasionally pondered whether Surfer’s Ear might also be a risk for the winter cyclist…

Winter weather brings a host of excuses not to go riding, and it’s for that reason I’ve been pretty much on my own for the last few weeks. My social skills and attention span with respect to pretty much everything are noticeably corroded. It’s not a situation that is likely to improve this winter, so for me my bike continues to be key, as does a willingness to embrace the mud, the wet, and the gale force winds. It is also good time of year for grabbing a few snaps while out riding, so while this is a post about essentially nothing, it gives me something to do that doesn’t require any kind of mental focus….

October is always host to annual ‘mudguard day’; that day when the it feels like time to recognise the end of summer and stick the mudguards back on my bike. In this case the stainless steel Gilles Berthoud that my Brother Cycles AllDay wears during the wetter months.
Early October often features warm sunshine. I go out for coffee sometimes.
I passed this stall back in September. This time, and in X-files fashion, the pumpkins had multiplied; possibly the precursor to some sort of invasion or take-over. Thank heaven they don’t have opposable thumbs.
Winter storms sweeping in from the Atlantic bring some spectacular lighting. It’s a good time of year to be out.
I watched this storm front sweeping in as I rode along the coast. Its arrival was violent, and a hailstone, amusingly, became lodged in my ear canal. I have occasionally pondered whether Surfer’s Ear might also be a significant risk for the winter cyclist… I have it to a small degree, I’d always assumed from time in the water.
The trails are quieter now although during school half-term Cornwall was as busy as August. Winter is always a better time to be out.
Views towards Halzephron…
.. and some steep trails.
A winter-time palette to the countryside, far removed from the fantastic wildflower display of spring.
Autumn sometimes produces some really great colours, but this year I can’t say I particularly noticed. Stuff just seemed to curl up and die, with just a few scraps of colour along the trail.
This time of year always makes me feel good about having a hardwearing drivetrain with stainless steel chainrings and an old-school sealed crank bearing unit that won’t notice multiple winters.
I enjoy the winter storms.. mostly.. Riding can be challenging in the winds, especially when the trail is slippery, but it’s always better to be out. Especially when the swell is 20-30ft.
This storm coincided with school half-term. The rescue services were bound to be busy, as they were all summer. In this case the coastguard helo was rapidly followed by the air ambulance as, despite abundant warnings, a bunch of folk visiting from London thought it a good idea to climb out on the rocks to get closer to the waves. An activity somewhat akin to climbing onto a railway track to get a closer look at an approaching train.
This stretch is just about rideable in the summer. When the mud is slick, the winds are howling, and in this case with streams of salt water flying back over the cliffs, it’s better off as a hike-a-bike.
Embracing the slop.
I do love a wet forest. I’m lucky to have such variety close to home. This is Tehidy Woods. A few weeks of rinsing in heavy rain has been good for it; during the drier months it was turned into a vast dog toilet, and there was not a day I was not faced with cleaning the stuff off my bike. Pretty ghastly really when seeing how popular these woods are for kids playing.
The moss on the base of these trees is wonderful.
Winter, innit.
Yesterday, in passing. The sun came out for a while while heading south across Loe Bar.
If you were in the UK in the ‘80s you might remember the brilliantly satirical The Comic Strip Presents. One of the episodes was called “Didn’t You Kill My Brother?”; a suitably off-the-wall remake of the movie Bicycle Thieves. In it Alexei Sayle played a bicycle thief (and his brother), and Beryl Reid his mother. When Alexei’s character arrives home with a head wound one day.. his mother says “You should always put a dead badger on a head wound”, opens the fridge, takes out a dead badger and puts it on his head. Now, the only reason I mention it is because I find a “bollocks” sticker to be something of a dead badger, but for frame injuries. My Cross Check has a dent in the top tube where one day, long ago on the trail, I dropped a full, stainless steel water bottle on it, the bottom had a sharp edge. “bollocks”, I said.

2 thoughts on “October

  • Fab post yet again, young man … those are ‘proper’ winter Cycling legs!

    As for your frame sticker … I think that idea also has ‘legs’, as it were. One needs to use ‘bollocks’ stickers everyday and on every aspect of human existence … if nothing more than to celebrate the humanity of ‘erring’. Not wanting to soil your idea too much … wouldn’t it be great if that was the way politicians admitted errors of judgement … or maybe just by using a facemask with it printed across the middle !-)

    • hey, what news?! cheers too, although unconvinced re ‘young man’.. unless you’re after free stuff perhaps ;-) re the bollocks sticker, yes am in the process of launching “Chough Stuff” and considering selling some ‘frame injury’ packs to go with the bags… perhaps I’m going to rebrand them as ‘life patches’ ;-)
      Hope you’re keeping well?!

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