Monday, 6 March 2017

Rain, Rain go away....

Splish, splash, splosh - it seems like every time I go out lately I get a thorough drenching. Cycling in the rain is unpleasant at best; tedious and downright miserable the rest of the time. The only saving grace is that no one can see your tears when you're out in the rain.

I set off for a 45 mile round trip last week; at home it was bright and encouraging and the first 10 miles were pleasurable. As I passed through Measham the sky ahead was a steely dark grey, a curtain falling from the heavens like a theatrical backdrop - it didn't look good.

The first drops hit me thirty seconds later and I pulled over to dig out my bright yellow waterproof. Then, in the time it's taken to write these few words i was soaked. Even with the waterproof covering my upper body I felt sodden. Head, hands, legs and feet dripped constantly as I laboured on through Netherseal, Coton and on to Walton. It is said that weather helps shape the character of people - certainly non more so than the English; a long-suffering, phlegmatic, patient people - rather insensitive to surprise, stoical against storms and incredulous at every appearance of the sun. My incredulity seems to have been justified today. As I made my way into Barton under Needwood there were two workmen standing looking at what appeared to be a geyser errupting at the side of the road. The older of the two, a man with a face like a root vegetable brought to life by the occult, signalled me to pass round. I nodded to them as I passed. Then I realised I had a puncture - the rain always has a tendency to incite the puncture bug - and today was perfect conditions.

I was visiting my Mother and was grateful to step into the kitchen and take advantage of the hot radiators. Soon they were covered with an array of sodden clothing and shoes emanating a dense cloud of steam. Love it or hate it one thing is certain, a wet ride is unavoidable at this time of year. It seems I've ridden for days on end in the rain lately. Or life times as it seems in my head. How many words are there for rain? Precipitation, drizzle, mizzle, showers, downpour, raining cats and dogs, spitting, torrential, dribble and deluge. Then there're full suite of 'downs': - pissing, bucketing it, chucking it, pouring, tipping it, pelting, lashing it and sheeting. Man-up many a cyclist will think when looking at the leaden grey sky and shiny roads. Not me, I ride because I want to enjoy it, not suffer it. Cycling is about the journey not the destination. The opposite is true when the heavens open. There's enough to avoid on the roads without having to worry about what lies under that next big puddle. Head down, eyes narrow - there's little chance to enjoy the scenery on a wet ride. But getting caught in the rain is never as bad as setting off in the rain. There's the multi-layers of clothing needed for a start, add to that the unpleasant peeling off of of all those layers when they are soaked at the other end - and worse, the idea of putting those same layers back on, still wet, for the return journey! - not to be cherished.

Anyway, Mum's radiators had at least offered some respite to the dilemma - not only that, in the time I'd been there the weather had changed - there was blue in the sky now - and a few golden rays to lift my spirits for the 25 mile leg to home. I set off in dry clothing with a wide grin - the worst was over.

Except it wasn't.

Five miles out and the rain was back, stinging rain, driving so hard into my face I thought I'd taken a wrong turn into a jet wash. Then there was the wind. Mile upon mile of 20mph headwind, the gusts trying to lift me from my bike. It couldn't get any worse though right? - wrong. Next the puncture bug bit again. I swear it was laughing at me as I rolled into the side. The repair was an arduous task, drippy, slippy freezing fingers combined with mud and oil made the task impossible. I looked for a hedge, not to shelter but to throw the bike over and continue my journey on foot - after all - I couldn't get any wetter. What an absolute drag this ride had developed into. Then the hail started.

By the time I got home I was depleted, defeated. Limbs I last felt some hours ago gradually began to tingle with signs of recovery - loose yet lifeless. Food and sleep are all that's on my mind. Yet this is no one-off - next week the same and the one after and the one after that. But hopefully, pulleeease, no rain!

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