Yuk the weather is horrid and the nights have well and truly drawn in. Four kids and Christmas dictate that a turbo trainer is out of the question so wrapping up and braving the winter is my only option. Cycling in Oct/Nov is a little like diving in a pool or the sea, the idea sounds like a bad idea and initially its a little shocking but after a few minutes it’s not too bad. Evening cycling has a huge benefit and that is a distinct lack of traffic, and without sounding a little strange cycling by moonlight puts a new perspective on your local roads. Obviously it goes without saying that you need to ensure you are visible, from hi vis gear and decent lights (one area not to scrimp on) and try to keep to well light roads. Cyclists can get a bad press, often for ridiculous Daily Mail centred tirades and apart from red light jumpers (who get my goat) I haven’t witnessed anything but safe and sensible cycling from other fellow road cyclists. However the nights have brought out all the idiotic part time cyclists and chav’s on mountain bikes, I am convinced these muppets are half the reason we cyclist’s have to endure such ire from James Martin et al. To be honest if we all behaved that way we deserve it, so far this winter I have almost run over two such idiots through no fault of my own, and 2 others have had me yell at them. So please keep your cycling going despite the darker mornings/nights but make sure we can all see you, otherwise you might find me venting my spleen at you.
PS I did promise my recipe for cake in order to keep costs down on gels and other glucose products, I cannot claim full responsibility for this – its from the BBC recipe finder. My own advice is to swap the mixed peel with sultana’s, just a preference but also makes the cake easier to eat when cycling as it has more moisture. The beer is optional for serious calorie counters but for me it gives it a nice edge.
500g/1Ib 2oz small currants
140g/5oz mixed peel
500ml/17fl oz bottle strong bottled beer, such as Black Sheep Brewery Riggwelter Strong Ale
180g/7oz soft dark brown sugar
150g/5½oz self-raising flour
180g/7oz wholemeal self-raising flour
3 tsp mixed spice
3 free-range eggs
Put the dried fruit into a large pan and cover with the bottled beer. Gently heat the fruit until the beer is hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat, cover and leave overnight.
When you are ready to cook the loaf, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
Add the sugar, flours, mixed spice and eggs to the fruit mixture. Stir well until all the ingredients are combined. Divide the mixture between two greased 500g/1Ib 2oz loaf tins.
Bake for 1¼ hours until risen, pale brown and firm to the touch. Cover with a tea towel and leave on a wire rack to cool. Wrap the loaves tightly in cling film and keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 weeks. This loaf is delicious buttered with raspberry jam or served with a piece of Wensleydale cheese.