And then it rained.
Five minutes into the ride, less than a mile from home, and, uncharacteristically, but with good fortune, wearing a cap beneath my helmet, the rain poured down upon me, making a mockery of my mudguards.
The heavens opened with such promptness that the only positive I could draw from the deluge was that it would soon pass. Only a shower could maintain such ferocity, I thought, and pedaled on, consoled by the notion that dryer roads would surely lie ahead.
The feeling that rain will soon pass brings a certain pleasure. I am no longer the idiot in line for a three-hour soaking, but instead the dedicated athlete, unwilling to allow even the slightest interruption to his training.
Sure enough, within 10 minutes, and still a long way from soaked, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun. There was even a mild warmth to a sun suddenly revealed by shifting clouds, and what had started as an uneventful Saturday afternoon spin had turned in to a useful test of the kit in which I was attired.
As I pressed on through the next town and into the countryside beyond, I was no longer aware of the “what the heck is he doing?” glances from passing cars and pedestrians, and felt pleased to have survived my narrow brush with drowning.
My optimism was short lived, however. Deep into the countryside, the heavens opened again. I shared a significant nod with two oncoming cyclists, a silent gesture of mutual respect, one whose subtext ran along the lines of, “Sure, there are easier ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, but loitering in a bike shop will always lead to purchases that are not strictly essential”.
A few miles further, and three more cyclists appeared on the horizon. I caught them easily, and when passing, the reason for my ‘superiority’ became clear: they were touring cyclists of a certain age, an object of derision to my younger self, but now a beacon of hope: if I am riding in such beautiful surroundings and with such contempt from conditions in 30 years time, I will do so proudly.
We shared a wave and the camaraderie of fellow battlers against the weather. Our faces were stung by the velocity of the rain drops, but we would not be cowed. The show, or the ride at least, went on.
Regrettably, so did the rain. I placed my hands on the ‘tops’, balled my fists, and watched the water emerge in torrents. My gloves were literally wringing wet and my feet were more than damp. Wool socks were my only hope of retaining any sensation in my feet; mercifully, they lived up to the billing.
And then it stopped. The rain ended as if a tap has been turned, and, as on the previous occasion, sunlight emerged, drying me within minutes, and providing an unexpected warmth. I abandoned plans to cut short the ride, and continued along the drying, and inviting road ahead.