Grey days are the hardest of days.
Wind, rain, cold, snow - all have their place neatly lined up along the bookshelf of rugged adversity, stories told interminably ad infinitum in books, magazines and sewn into the pockets of certain jerseys to show how tough the ride was, how much there was suffering and just how goddam stoic you were. All of that which cycling has become.
Tough though they are, and conducive to yet another tale grown grittier by the telling, they are a life-affirming fanfare compared to the smothering blanket of the flat grey day. It is the monochrome that permeates these interim times of year, day-on-day, grinding tedium, slowly gently quietly drip-chip-drip-chipping away at the heart and bones. Picking at the loose threads of enthusiasm and unraveling them to leave a granite hollow.
Wind gives you something to fight against, scream or swear into, and yet for about half the time is a friend. Rain is miserable, but there are modern fabrics now that cheerfully shrug it off. Snow is all at once stupid, dangerous and fun. Cold nips the skin and paralyses the edges and may bring accomplice ice along to add the frigid frisson of fear and the possibility of physical and monetary pain. The infrequent needle sting and spitting out of hail.
All of these weathers interact, they are tangible, proffering an experience; push, pull, touch, tear, bite, burn, chew, scuff, scratch, gnaw, a reassurance that you might be alive via challenged senses.
Grey does nothing. It is an impassive neutral. The saturated absence of feeling and colour, it absorbs will and desire into its dull devoid. If you want a fight it will soak up each one of your punches for as long as you care. Riding into and through putty.
Sky is tarmac, tarmac is sky, all is the same and endless monotony.
You can try and pretty it by calling it Mole’s Breath or Deep Fossil or Smoulder but it is still just grey, in-between the polarities. It is the stagnant middle ground no matter how many shades you fluff it up in, the resolute non-committal. Vapid. Flat. Grey. Empty. Staring into the vacant eyes of a pointless dead relationship, emotion and motion unreciprocated.
Pedaling into nothing is the hardest thing of all. Grey.
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.