Articles about cycling are typically illustrated by happy people pedalling on the flat in warm sunshine, writes Andy Chivers. As recent weeks have reminded us, the weather is not always like that. Nor is the terrain always flat, though that at least is more predictable.

Not surprisingly, many people choose to avoid hills and just ride their bike when the weather is nice. But that isn’t so easy for people using bikes to commute every day. Many people ride up to Headington every day, and good weather in the morning, can become wet and windy by the evening.

How do people cope with bike riding in such conditions? Fundamentally, we need a positive attitude (and somewhere to change into dry clothes) but there are two things that help: gear and gears.

The Dutch don’t cycle in special gear, we hear all the time, but I suspect every cycling household has a pair of waterproof trousers and a jacket hanging by the front door. Getting the right gear doesn’t mean the latest breathable fabric, but some cheap waterproof clothes to keep stuffed in your bag so you are prepared for the sudden downpour. Nothing really keeps you completely dry, but at least you stay warm. Shoes are more awkward – the rain runs off waterproof trousers, straight into them, and they take ages to dry. Serious all-weather riders deserve a pair of overshoes for their birthday. Perhaps Rishi Sunak will be handing them out in the budget.

Hills are a different challenge, partly overcome by some realism and importantly by effective use of the bike gears. It helps to see hills as credit in the bank which will be repaid sooner, or later. I cycled up Headley Way today – it is improved, thank you County Council. I got into a comfortable gear early on and pootled up. The distance was under a quarter of a mile before it flattened out and even at 5mph that will only take three minutes. Hills don’t go on forever. And so what if you get off and push? You still get the downhill on the way back, though by then, it was pouring with rain for me.

I have left headwinds until last because they can go on forever, often there is no payback and it can feel unsafe when the wind seems to come from all directions at once. What is to be done when the wind is stopping you in your tracks? Choosing a route that avoids wide or busy roads, changing down to an easier gear and thinking of it as a hill may help, but in the end you have to take a perverse pleasure in wrestling with the elements and winning. As we slide into autumn, I hope that the many new cyclists this awful pandemic has encouraged onto their bikes will be proudly riding up hills in the rain and wind, with a smile on their face, envied by bus and car passengers alike. And we haven’t mentioned cold weather yet!