May is your reward if you’ve spent several months cycling through a bleak winter and an uninspiring early spring. If you’ve been dissuaded from cycle commuting, meanwhile, May is an ideal time to reboot your commute.
We’re well into British Summertime now, with the days longer than the nights. Even at the start of May, the sun rises at 5:30am in London and doesn’t set until almost 8:30pm. (It varies by latitude, of course; the sun sets noticeably later in Edinburgh.) Unless you’re working shifts, you’ll ride to work and back in daylight. You’ll even get up when it’s light, which feels better perhaps because your daily schedule is finally in step with your circadian rhythm. You might want bike lights in your commuter bag just in case, but it’s unlikely you’ll need them.
May is warmer, the average temperature climbing to around 14 degrees. As well as being more pleasant, this reduces faff. There’s no need to hunt around for hat and gloves before departure; it’s mild enough without them. Like your lights, the waterproof jacket you wore through winter may spend much of its time in your commuter bag. The rest of the time, a lightweight windproof or gilet will be sufficient. Or you might not need anything warmer than the clothes you wear for work.
Don’t leave your waterproofs at home, however. It rains just as much in May as the previous few months. Since it’s warmer and sunnier, with an average of six hours of sunshine a day (topped only by June), the roads dry quicker when it does rain. Drier, cleaner roads mean a cleaner bike that requires less maintenance. You probably won’t want to ditch the mudguards, but you won’t need to clean and re-lubricate your bike nearly as often. And if you ride off-road on bridleways and canal-side paths you won’t need to clean yourself as often, because the splattery mud of winter is finally drying up. That’s partly the stronger spring sun and partly the fact that trees and other plants are drinking in the groundwater, sucking it out of the soil as they burst into leaf.
With the everything in bloom, there’s a freshness to the air whenever you cycle near greenery. In the urban environment there are more open doors and windows, so smells from bakeries and coffee shops are carried on the breeze.
So long as you stay away from the worst of the traffic, you’ll hear a rising chorus of bird calls as they seek mates or stake a claim on a patch of land. Is there a song in heart of commuters too? If you’re on a bike and pick the right route, perhaps so.
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