Most people have a general interest in the weather — is it going to be hot or cold or wet? Should I take an umbrella to work, or should I take a jacket?
But when you become a cyclist you develop a more specific interest in all things meteorological, because the weather can make such a difference to your journey. If you know it’s going to rain when you’re out riding you can dress appropriately. Ditto if it’s going to be hot. And, if you’re like me and are scared shitless of excessively gusty winds, you can leave your bike behind if you know that the conditions are going to be a bit cyclone-like.
The past two weeks have been rather windy in this part of the world, so I’ve been paying particular attention to the weather reports: if the predicted gusts are more than 40mph there’s no way I’m getting on my bike. So on Wednesday evening I did my ritual check-the-forecast-before-bed routine and didn’t like what I saw on Metcheck.com
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Given I usually head out on the bike at around 7.45am, I didn’t fancy trundling along while 44mph gusts were raging all around me. The return journey, at around 5.15pm, didn’t look promising either, with gusts predicted to reach 55mph. So I made a conscious decision to catch the tube to work instead.
However, if I relied on the BBC Weather Centre to determine whether I should ride my bike or not, I’m pretty sure I would have opted for the bicycle.
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According to this forecast the wind didn’t seem to be a problem. While there’s no indication of gust speeds, the wind speeds are a laughable 17mph in the morning and 18mph in the evening.
The difference between these two weather forecasts is quite astounding really. Especially given the fact that Thursday’s weather was horrendous: storms raged across the country, killing nine people in the process!
Needless to say, if you live in the UK, it’s wise to get your weather forecasts from Metcheck.com I’ve been using this site for about six months now and have found it incredibly reliable. Its cycle-specific forecasts are very helpful, because all the information you want to know as a cyclist — how windy will it be? what will the humidity be like? is there going to be any rain? am I likely to need my sunglasses? — is all there in convenient three-hourly blocks. And the best part is that you can see how conditions are likely to change across the day, so that if you head out in the morning wearing dry-weather gear, you know to take along your waterproofs because your return journey is going to be a rainy one!
Now, if only it could predict the amount of traffic on your route…