In late spring/early summer here in the UK, the weather can be a fickle beast; 25 degree sunshine and sunny blue skies one day, 11 degrees and sideways rain the next. But in between those two extremes we get every shade of grey (literally) you could imagine. Right now, early June, here in the north of England, we seem to be stuck in a pattern of warm and muggy skies punctuated by rain showers of the kind that would grace a Malaysian monsoon.
Every couple of hours, without warning, the heavens open and deposit 20 minutes of the biggest, wettest rain imaginable, and every time it leads me to think just one thought…
…I wonder who’s out for a ride in this.
The group text message goes around, a couple of instant replies along the lines of ‘not me mate’… ‘luckily not, bit damp like’… and SMS silence from three or four friends. If I’m honest, I can hardly contain my glee.
Cruel, I know, but the longer the airwaves are silent the greater the odds that a couple of my riding companions are out there somewhere, in full summer garb, getting a biblical drenching.
I picture them struggling through puddles which rise half way up the wheels, or hiding in some grim, graffitti’d, and none too fresh bus shelter. Perhaps by now they’ve cracked completely and are sat at the roadside weeping, tears mingling with rainwater, pristine kit brown with puddle water and hanging off them.
Of course I shouldn’t find this funny; next time it could be me, in fact many times before now it has been me, and that’s the point. There are very few among us – even those wise old oracles of meteorology – who get it right every time. In the summer, especially, it’s oh-so-easy to be seduced into leaving your waterproof at home and riding light and carefree, unencumbered by extra clothing stuffed into the jersey pocket, and so when your time comes you take it on the chin.
Having said that, the kind of rain I’m talking about would be more than a match for even the most hi-tech of cycling kit.
Those of us glass-half-full types see days like this as a positive; not only have you been out and had a ride while your mates were at home cowering in front of the TV (it’s all mileage in the legs), but you now have a rather excellent weather related anecdote to wheel out as required. In fact, if you’re the one who’s out there in weather which befits a tropical rainforest in high summer, you might even consider embellishing the anecdote as much as you can; seek out the biggest puddles, goad the car drivers into throwing up rivers of water as they pass, or knock on a stranger’s door seeking shelter – these are all good ingredients for a good weather based anecdote.
Of course, sometimes you’ll be disappointed. Within two or three minutes all of your mates have checked in by text, and all have confirmed that they are warm and dry in the safety of their homes, and are not currently being subjected to an almighty battering by the rain.
Ah well, maybe next time.