So, when you’re on a bicycle, there are four different sorts of rain….
I should add that when you’re not on a bike but perhaps sitting on the sofa watching TV in the warm and you see the rain on the windows, there are three sorts of rain.
“Oooh it’s raining. Good for the plants.”
“It’s a bit heavy. It’ll ruin the geraniums”
“The satellite TV signal’s gone and I can hear dripping in the attic”
On a four hour bike ride today, we had rain for about 210 minutes of the four hours and the heavens demonstrated their saturating capabilities admirably.
This was my Birthday Ride. Instead of a pay rise, my bosses gave everyone an extra day’s holiday so I thought we’d make the most of the luxury of an extra day it with a longer-than usual cycling jaunt.
The heavens just played around at first with a pleasantly warm light shower that refreshed the bare arms and bare legs.
“Just a few drops – not worth stopping to mess about with the waterproof” I said confidently to Capt Sensible
The precipitation ceased for five minutes before returning with re-enforcements – proper steady ceaseless rain – the kind that demands waterproofs and causes muddy puddles to form.
That wasn’t too bad until the flash of lightning and rumble of thunder… and the heavens
decided to chuck it down, big-time.
We sheltered under a tree until the worse went off. I stayed on the bike on the basis I’d be earthed by the rubber tyres. Obviously that wasn’t going to help much with a tree on fire crashing down on to my head but hey, I fell asleep in the big exploding tree sequence in Avatar which I think proves that my subconscious finds wholesale tree destruction curiously soothing and soporific.
The heavens turned the rain down a bit so we continued to a caff where I made their nice willow seating wet – rainwater not bodily fluids – and partially cheered up a rather forlorn Capt Sensible with a Welsh rarebit and a mug of tea.
So after improving in humidity from soaked to moistly damp, we set off again. Within three minutes there was a great flash of lightning again and the crash of thunder. At this point, we had about 45 minutes of cycling in prospect but hey, don’t say I can’t recognise a bad plan when it slaps me in the face with a wet towel… We headed for the main road and homeward.
This seemed a good idea.
“The wind was in our faces all the way here so it’ll be on our backs all the way home,” I told Captain Sensible.
“It will have changed,” intoned Eeyore.
Dammit, it bloody had, too! Not only had it changed, but the thunderstorm which had headed north after torrential rain was coming back for a third go at us.
It was like riding into Dante’s Inferno after a series of massive,continuing electric storms had turned the Inferno into a big, smelly Damp Squib.
To be honest, once you are saturated, it’s impossible to get wetter. We had reached this stage, pedalling back along the A38 with traffic giving us due consideration and probably feeling sorry for two cyclists pedalling through the thunderstorm and torrential battering rain that was forcing cars to slow to about 30mph.
Oh how we laughed. I did anyway. Captain Sensible didn’t manage one. Although I did remind him that he could tell the story of Jan’s Birthday Jaunt to his pals at work and he would earn a whole lot of fresh sympathy. They are already incredibly sympathetic to him over the being hooked up with me thing. Also, he really likes sympathy.
When you have torrential rain causing stripes of cold on your scalp, dripping from the peak of your cycle helmet, running down your nose and dripping off it, cascading down your face so that you can actually open your mouth and drink the rain running off your philtrum, it actually makes you laugh a bit. (If you don’t know, look it up. You might need it for a Quiz Night. That’s where I found out what it was).
You can feel wet gathering in your cycle shorts and they begin to feel like a swimming costume. You know that your trainers are pretty wet because you can hear them squelching a bit.
The waterproof, which was quite jolly expensive and started out looking.. well… even if I say so myself..satisfyingly spiffy with the lilac and white over my white shorts… turned out not to be waterproof. The headwind turned into a side wind which blew the soaking, cold sleeves against my bare arms, which didn’t feel great, I have to admit.
My shorts had gone a bit see-through and I was glad they were M&S Per Una because cheaper makes would have been far too pinkly revealing.
So hurrah, the thunder and lightning stopped, but hey, the heavens hadn’t finished yet… oh no. We’d reached “flash flood” levels of rainfall. This meant that although I led the way along cycleways away from the roads wherever possible, the quantity of water on the roads meant you were always going to get sunami-style splashback.
Cars were mostly considerate but I’d love to meet the driver of the Hobbs Brothers oil tanker that passed me, sending a side wave of road water cascading six feet over my head so it literally took away my visibililty for about five seconds.
Imagine having a whole bowser of water fired at you, while riding a bike. It was like that. It slightly knocked me sideways.
Later, I asked Capt Sensible if he’d noticed me submerged under the bow wave from a passing tanker. He had, he said.
“Did you laugh?”
“I did” he said. So the ride wasn’t without some joy.
A chap on a butcher’s style bike with a basket on the front came cycling towards me shortly after I’d caught the Hobbs bow wave. I might have had road gravel on my face. He grinned and remarked with the driest humour he could summon “Yeah, it’s definitely going off a bit now..”
It was good to get back to a hot shower. My bike is drying gently in the kitchen.
It’s less good to find that the saturation had extended to both our mobile phones which are now drying out in the airing cupboard. I don’t know whether they will recover.
I’m not entirely sure about Capt Sensible either. Despite a long hot bath and the healing powers of Tina Turner, he says he is broken and may not be able to get off the sofa for *hours.*
I feel the chances of him joining me for a Jan’s Birthday Ride in August next year are slim.