There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity and choosing to go out cycling for a couple of hours in the foulest of weather would not conventionally be considered to be brave. However, with the UK suffering from a frustratingly prolonged Winter there isn’t really much of an option at the moment.
My work situation has recently changed so I no longer have my daily commute to rely on for cycling mileage. However my time is now more flexible which can present opportune windows for mid-week cycle rides. I had earmarked Friday morning as time for a three hour hilly ride and wasn’t about to change my mind just because howling winds and driving rain woke me before dawn.
After a long and cold Winter we are unfortunately again suffering from heavy rains and flooding. The roads are absolutely foul – mud, puddles, gravel and potholes everywhere and completely unsuitable for a decent bike. Thick socks, waterproof cycling shoes, leggings and mudguards are still the order of the day.
After a few miles at flooded lower levels I climbed my way to the top of the Mendip Hills. The wind was vicious and hardly ever favourable. I was leaning heavily into crosswinds (momentarily losing balance whenever a hedge cut out the wind) and then had to laugh when a full-on headwind limited my speed on a descent to 9 mph. I seriously contemplated turning back but realised I’d never escape the dastardly wind so ploughed on, letting out irregular gasps of despair through gritted-teeth.
I was hoping to ride for 3 hours, but when conditions are this unfavourable (and you’ve long-lost the feeling in fingers and toes) then sometimes you have to know when to call it a day. After covering just 27 miles in two long hours, I headed home, showered, ate a hearty breakfast of poached eggs (3), muffins (2) and chocolate brownies (4), and then headed out for a long day of meetings. At least the good thing about cycling is being that skinny bloke scoffing all the biscuits in every meeting.