Well I’d planned to do a lengthy, exploratory ride this weekend and today’s wasn’t very lengthy – only 24 miles but it felt like longer.
Thing was, it was pouring with rain and then it went off, leading me to believe the forecast “dry and settled later” might prove accurate.
But within two minutes of home, it was raining again. Within ten minutes of home with me on a main road mixing it with cars with their lights on, it was pelting down.
I noticed that my high-vis jacket was a bit cold on the arms. That was because it turns out not to be very waterproof in heavy rain and the rain was plastering the yellow sleeves to my bare arms. Body warmth kept the rest of me from being chilled and the peak of the helmet kept the worst of the rain and muck off my face.
For the first half an hour the usual endorphins were nowhere to be found. I kept thinking “You’re an idiot. This is a bad idea cycling in this weather. You should turn round, go home and put the kettle on.” But another part of me was saying “Oh for God’s sake at least do a hill or something worthwhile before you jack it in,” which was a reasonable goal.
And there was another issue – the fact that I know that the coming week is pretty full on and there will probably not be an opportunity for another decent ride at all until at least the weekend.
So, with my Long Ride playlist in my left ear, I just pressed on. The rain eased up but didn’t stop, and the unfamiliarity of new lanes and a new route, trying to remember the Google maps layout, made things interesting. It’s also amazing what unexpected little hills lie hidden, waiting to test you, which I suppose are Good Things which might conceivable make one a bit fitter. And in a deserted lane, there is no-one to hear you mildly swearing to yourself or, at the top, patronising yourself with a “Good job!”
So after an hour, I was enjoying it hugely, except for the unreliable-feeling brakes but I was much more careful than usual. And it was good splashing through the streams of water that were cascading down the sides of the road.
In the quieter sections of my playlist, I could hear that back brake rubbing with every wheel revolution but I didn’t care much. With a bit of luck and a following wind, I’m getting new wheels and brake pads on Friday.
The ride was all about dropping in on Dick Whittington’s village, Pauntley and having a look at the church. Back in the 14th century, Dick Whittington was a real local boy made good. Sent to London, aged 14 to begin an apprenticeship, he subsequently became a very rich textile merchant and Lord Mayor of London three times. Pauntley Court, the childhood home of young Richard, is next door to the church. Not sure about the cat though.
Ancient yew. Not quite so ancient bike.
Norman Arch. Yeah, I know. That Norman got around a bit.
Anyway, back on the bike and ninety minutes in to the ride, there were buzzards and there was much tweety birdsong as I rode past a local nature reserve and in the verge, confused-looking baby rabbits I could hold in the palm of my hand. The temptation to bag one was great.
And then I was heading for home. It always feels good to be back in the familiar and be anticipating the cuppa and the hot shower ahead. For one of the nicer things about cycling in the rain is the end of the ride, drying off the bike and getting out of the rain!