English seasons annoy me. None more so than winter. OK: So in December we had a couple of weeks of ‘real winter’ – sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice; something approaching the kind of kick-up-the-backside that this country needs to stir society from its mollycoddled torpor. But now it has succumbed to the all-too-inevitable British veil of grey, nondescript tedium.
It seems I have no choice. I must go forth and seek out a proper winter; the kind that stings the throat upon drawing breath, renders digits white and fumbling, and drowns the sounds and shapes of a land with a gleaming white silence…
So there’s a return bus ticket from London to Oslo on my desk, up here in the rainy East Midlands where I’m spending my time writing and editing video of last year’s escapades. Whether or not it will be possible to get in much riding during the 5 weeks I’ll be up there, or to have much fun doing so, is still open for debate. A cyclist friend in Stockholm thinks I’ll have a fantastic time, whereas another based in Tromso is adamant that riding in northern Scandinavia in winter would constitute a particularly chilly and uncomfortable form of suicide.
I’m still sticking to my no-flying-for-cycling policy, so as much as I’d have loved to head Siberia-wards for my winter fix, my window of opportunity is too short to spend that much time aboard trains. It’s possible to take a bus from London to Oslo, and for about the same cost as flying there with a bike in the aircraft hold.
To be honest, I’m optimistic, but more nervous than I’ve been for a long time. I almost talked myself out of it, citing lack of funds, but it’ll be cheaper to do this than to rent a flat and live in London for a month. The temperatures don’t look that cold – minus 5 or 10 by day, minus 20 at night… on a par with a particularly chilly winter’s day in the Armenian mountains, and that was manageable… so it should be possible, right?
Only one way to find out!