Call it what you want – a misjudgment, an amateur mistake, a schoolboy error.
It was a cold and torrentially wet Sunday morning in April. A friend and I had cooked up a plan to head out and ride for an hour and a half, on the basis that one of us had suggested it, and bullishness on both sides prevented either of us backing down and bailing out…
Which might have been the sensible option.
Whenever I find myself out riding in far from ideal conditions – in weather which makes me think twice about leaving my bed, never mind my house – it’s usually a result of these little mind games we play.
So we found ourselves with an early and very wet start, and one or two doubts as to whether this was a good idea. For the first 45 minutes it was going well; we were wet, but riding hard and keeping warm, and feeling pretty pleased with our disdain for the weather.
But then came the error of judgement; we decided to stop for a coffee, just to be sociable.
‘Nothing unusual there’, you might think, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’
In the café we peeled off layers of dripping wet kit, causing puddles to form around our feet as we sat, and talked bikes for half an hour. It was when we came to put our drenched jackets, hats, and gloves back on, that it dawned on us what we were in for – it’s never a good sign when you’ve got to wring the water out of your gloves before you can squeeze them back on.
Back outside, the rain had somehow managed to increase, the air temperature was a chilly 2 degrees C, and the wind was really starting to blow. Anyone who knows anything can imagine how it feels to go back out in that weather, and ride a bike wearing wet kit.
Cold would be an understatement – It’s fair to say our bullishness was long gone.
I wouldn’t use the word ‘epic’ – it was only a 25 mile ride, after all – but the 45 minute spin back home was a bit more memorable that we were hoping for. We made attempts to laugh off the perilous and near hypothermic situation we were presented with, but quickly decided to keep our mouths shut, put the hammer down as much as our chilled limbs would allow, and get home as soon as possible.
I swear my friend had tears running down his face, but mingled with rain water it was hard to tell for sure.
To stop for a warming brew and a bit of cake when the weather is bad seems like the most natural thing in the world; funny how sometimes it can all end in tears.