Spot the difference

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


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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  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…


2 thoughts on “Spot the difference

  1. Well, looks like Monday will be a nicer day for your commute. Cold, but not as windy. I’m coming off a week of icy roads and just as it started melting off we’re forcasted to get 5 to 6 inches of snow tonight and more freezing rain tomorrow.’s cycling forcast is, indeed, very cool. I’m a bit jealous as I’ve not found anything similar for the Kansas City area. I spent a month or two tracking the next day forcasts on NOAA’s web site and four of the major TV stations in town to see who’s was best and it normally ended up as a split between and NOAA. Hour by hour forcasts are best handled by the local media. Great post!


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