Ruminations on the rain

It’s a sad truth when it comes to cycling in the UK or anywhere in the world for that matter, there is simply no way to escape the ever present menace of bad weather. Yesterday I had a tough decision to make – “to ride or not to ride?”, I thought to myself whilst looking out the window in a state of hopelessness. As is all too familiar, the rain poured down, the wind howled and my training motivation took something of a nose dive.

Yet this time, there was no escape – after all I have important events coming up. The previous day I had been foolish enough not to check the forecast and as such decided to take a rest, leaving me fresh for the weekly interval session. You might recall my mention, in an earlier post, of my undying hatred for the turbo trainer – short of a hurricane or blizzard, nothing would make me resort to that option. Therefore after much procrastination and the donning of waterproof kit that I had previously packed away in an optimistic mood a week earlier, I set out into the great damp unknown.

Cutting a long story short the ride was distinctly unpleasant – involving fog, floods, potholes and a host of inconsiderate drivers. Yet I came away with a rare feeling of satisfaction – I had won the battle against my own apathy and survived pretty much everything the day had seen fit to throw at me. It was now that I found myself asking a strange question – “is there a silver lining to the bad weather that we cyclists so often bemoan?”.

Firstly there are considerable bragging rights to be earned – many cyclists I know will never set out upon hearing the mere mention of rain, how gratifying it feels to no longer be amongst them. Of course, rule number 5 must not be forgotten and surely voluntarily getting soaked in the pursuit of greater performance represents strict adherence to it.

Secondly, its inevitable that at some point you will face unfavourable weather of during an event – as I was unfortunate enough to encounter during my last race. I learned that day that there is no substitute for toughening up and training in these conditions, my bike handling being even worse than usual having almost never ridden in the rain before. Those who don’t give in to the lure of an ‘early rest day’ and press on are giving themselves a big advantage over cyclists of the *fair weather variety.

Finally, the purchase of many extra items of kit becomes justifiable. If you decide to ride in the rain, there are many ‘essential’ condiments that must immediately become part of your collection – as can be explained to your family. It even presents the perfect excuse for the purchase of a new bike. Why would anyone choose to ruin expensive components in bad weather? Anyone can see the logic, it will be cheaper in the long term to acquire a machine for this purpose. Taken further – why not convert your current bike into a winter trainer and ‘invest’ in a shiny new one for the better days.

So you see – there are many advantages to rejecting the easy option of a turbo session or early rest day and instead putting on a brave face and facing the elements. So I write as I look out of the window and observe the deluge once again, suddenly the knee pain I very briefly experienced a fortnight ago comes to mind. Getting drenched might somehow cause injury – I should therefore do the responsible thing, listen to my body, have a rest and eat some cake.

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