Let me make one thing clear, I like rain. In fact, within reason, I can think of nothing nicer than a nice leisurely pedal on a damp day for accentuating all the things that I love about cycling. Today however was not so much damp; more, what fell from the sky felt like the overflow from the good Lord himself having an energetic scrub in an over filled bath. Slightly dodgy metaphor, but we'll stick with it.
I awoke with the intention of doing the Ystwyth CC Sunday club run. I looked out of my window at 8am and quite quickly realised there would probably not be anyone foolish enough to venture out, at least not for 9am. It was bathing it down (to continue the metaphor). Not 'chucking', not 'bucketing', not 'throwing'. No, it was 'bathing' it down. 'No problem', I thought, I'll just wait an hour or so and go and do a few hours on my own when it dies down. Sadly it didn't look like it was easing, so I decided to waterproof myself as much as possible and brave the conditions; after all, as I said to myself-'it's only water!' What I hadn't reckoned on was that this was Welsh water. Renowned for being just that bit colder and wetting than normal English water (or at least, that's what I'm led to believe). I was kitted out in my good old Lusso 'Max Repel' tights (they used to be water repellent. Not any more. As I later found out), my newly acquired Craft waterproof jacket, Endura Merino Wool vest and PRO Neoprene overshoes. Can't beat a bit of product placement eh? A pretty solid setup, or so I thought. To be fair though, I think only a full body Dry Suit would have done the job today. Basically, I got about 2 mins away from home and my legs were soaked and cold. Everywhere else fine, but legs cold. Never a good way to start a ride. It's (largely) unavoidable though as anyone who has cycled in the wet will understand; as soon as anything skintight gets wet it soaks straight through and then obviously makes whatever area of skin underneath rather wet and cold. Luckily, the affected areas went quite numb within about 10 mins, so I wasn't quite so aware. Although that did mean that for the rest of the ride, whenever I reached anything more than a slight gradient (which was most of it) I had that wonderfully horrible feeling of very cold muscles labouring to work and slowly and painfully warming up; only to chill again as soon as the road pointed down. As for my feet, well they lasted a bit longer; it was at least 15 mins until water began to soak downwards through the tights and pool in the shoes. I then had that lovely sensation of water sloshing around my feet whenever I changed pedalling angle. To be fair though, my jacket did put up a spirited defence, and I only noticed slight water ingress on the arms once I got back. Which is quite impressive given how wet it got. I'm not even going to mention my gloves. Even with squeezing them out multiple times mid ride, they still felt like they weighed about a Kilogram when I got back.
None of this will be new to anyone who rides in the rain, and it isn't knew to me either. To be completely honest, the first half of the ride was actually not too bad. I got rather wet rather quickly, but knew I couldn't really get any more wet-so figured I might as well make the most of it! I took a wrong turning however that sent me up a previously unknown but fiendishly steep side road that had me rather wet inside the jacket as well by the top. Nice. Unfortunately, the top was a farmer's gate. So I had to turn around. That's when things got really uncomfortable. Up to that point, my speed hadn't really gone that high-maybe maximum 22-24mph. Howling down this descent at 30-35mph and trying to keep on top of the speed (it really is amazing just how long it takes to slow down in the wet) I became rather aware of just how fecking cold the wind was. By the time I reached the bottom, I had altered my previous plan of climbing up to the Nant-Y-Moch reservoir and going to the Nant-Yr-Arian cafe (I was certain I'd find a table today!) and instead set my mental GPS for home. It was grim. My legs were so cold every rise was a bottom gear affair, and I was on the small ring (bearing in mind I'm on a compact as well) at times on the flat. Not good. I can deal with cold fingers, I'm used to that normally (I'm convinced I'm actually cold blooded). I can deal with cold feet. I can deal with cold ears. None of those directly hamper your efforts to keep moving. Properly deeply chilled legs however are a different story.
And now for something completely different to break this up a bit:
What a dude.
So anyway, I got back, managed an hour and a half in total and then had one of those showers that feels like it's burning you. You know what I mean, it's hot-but you're cold, and it feels too hot but somehow cold at the same time. Since then, I have eaten lunch, snacked, slept, snacked again, had a cup of tea (that's a first for me) generally done sod all. I reckon it's yesterday catching up with me, a deep rooted desire to graze and sleep that I'm quite happy to satisfy! I'm not complaining, it's all part of the fun! Pushing yourself and your limits and then enjoying the after effects!
I've also realised I eat a lot of money. To illustrate, as my flatmates will testify, I eat a lot. My dinner tonight consisted of 200g of pasta, a veg stir fry, pitta bread, a bag of salad, 2 cookies, 2 welsh cakes and a bowl of yoghurt. I bought most of that stuff today. Not very economical. But very satisfying it must be said!
So for my blog-postial sum up:
- Welsh roads are still awesome.
- If you go out in the rain expecting to get wet, you will get wet. No amount of fancy clothing will prevent that.
- I need a bigger room. I've got that much kit strewn around, hanging up, drying out etc it would take me at least 5 mins to navigate my way to the door in the event of a fire.
- Tinsel doesn't rust.
- Mudguards are a winter cyclist's best friend.
- This has been a rather dour, serious post. So here are some Yorkshireman jokes to make up for it:
- Yorkshire man takes his cat to the vet.
Yorkshireman: "Ayup, lad, I need to talk to thee about me cat."
Vet: "Is it a tom?"
Yorkshireman: "Nay, I've browt it wi us."
- A Yorkshireman's wife dies and the widower decides that her headstone should have the words "She were thine" engraved on it.
He calls the stone mason, who assures him that the headstone will be ready a few days after the funeral.
True to his word the stone mason calls the widower to say that the headstone is ready and would he like to come and have a look.
When the widower gets there he takes one look at the stone to see that it's been engraved "She were thin".
He explodes: "'ells bells man, you've left the bloody "e" out, you've left the bloody "e" out!"
The stone mason apologises profusely and assures the poor widower that it will be rectified the following morning.
Next day comes and the widower returns to the stone mason: "There you go sir, I've put the "e" on the stone for you".
The widower looks at the stone and then reads out aloud:
"E, she were thin".
I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. And next time you're out driving and you see a soggy cyclist going the other way, spare a thought :)