It can’t be just me who is beginning to take this weather personally, being, like most of us I would suspect, a weekend rider.
I’m struggling to remember the last time it didn’t rain on the weekend. I’m writing this as the sun shines over south London, warming the side of my face and causing a lack of visibility on my computer screen. I don’t want the sun to shine now, in fact it’s an inconvenience and I guarantee that by the time Saturday comes it will be pegging it down.
It’s all well and good trotting out Rule #9 about being “badass” riding in bad weather. I don’t feel badass, not even in some of the most highly developed wet weather gear known to cycling. Because no matter how good the kit is, it won’t stop that rain from smashing you in the face, turning your nose numb and blurring your vision. And that’s if you’re riding alone.
If you’re in a group and this is regardless of the competency of the mudguards employed, you’ll get crap all over you. There might be someone who has one of those full-on things that skims the road and if there is, my advice is to stick behind him like you’re umbilically attached. Sod taking a turn, just sit there. He might whinge a little bit but what’s he going to do? Slow down? Just slow down with him. If he veers off, you do the same. He’ll soon get the message. Then just to add insult to injury pretend you’ve forgotten your money when it comes to getting a coffee.
I say this smug in the knowledge that there isn’t a sane person out there who would sit behind me in the rain, with my plastic sliver of an Ass Saver mudguard. My Micro Fender on the other bike isn’t a lot of cop either, and the curious thing is they don’t even protect my own arse particularly well.
But I can’t bear the thought of full mudguards ruining the sporty look of my machines, no matter that they are being ruined by all the crap that gets kicked up from the roads.
The funny thing is that rain is an integral part of the suffering of cycling, that kind of badge of honour that says you are a bit more nuts than everyone else, a bit more hardcore, a bit Rule #9, frankly. This is exactly what you want people to think of you when you’re recounting your tales in the pub, especially people who don’t ride: “Only 50 miles, only!” they say, gobsmacked. It doesn’t have to be the pub, the butcher would give you the same response, especially if you go in there dripping a lake on his freshly swept floor and asking for a pound of sausages.
So to sum it up, riding in the rain isn’t any fun even if you’re out in seriously competent wet weather gear. You will no doubt be cursing the weather Gods and anything else that happens to cross your path but you’d have to see whatever it was first because your glasses will be all messed up with road crap. Then anyone you encounter post-ride is going to think you are a total lunatic especially when there are plenty of indoor pursuits you can take up, such as knitting.
And yet weekend in and weekend out, regardless of torrential downpours, we’re out there. And if we’re not, we might be on the turbo, which is arguably an equivalent level of insanity given you are most likely in a shed or a windowless spare room with not much to look at apart from a wall. Well there is Zwift, I must get on board with that. But the sentiment remains, bad weather cycling is a fairly unrewarding task. On the face of it.
However, and it’s a big however. Just try not doing it, try the knitting or sitting there with a book while the outside beckons and see how long you last. It won’t be long, I can assure you. As long as there’s an outside, you’ll want to be out in it. That’s what cycling does to you. It’s the definition of addiction, sometimes, that longing, that deep, pit-of-your-stomach urge to get out there and pedal. Rain? I hate it! But I love getting out on the bike more than I hate the rain.
And there’s the pull, that’s why we do it. It might not be perfect riding, but it’s a damn sight better than not riding.
Does that make sense? If you ride it will.