We should be used to it by now, so often does the rain hammer down on this blighted island, but each cloudburst dents the cyclist’s soul. There is the clothing, the cleaning, the sheer mental effort required to abandon the warm interior and head out into the elements that saps all motivation.
But should it? If there’s one subject on which all cyclists are agreed, it’s that when the deed is done, a rain-soaked ride is never quite as bad as it seemed from the sofa. And once you’re out in the saddle, the decision to ride always feels like the right one. With the hindsight brought after even the first 10 miles, the alternative seems ludicrous.
If there’s one subject on which all cyclists are agreed, it’s that a rain-soaked ride is never quite as bad as it seems. And once you’re in the saddle, the decision to ride always feels like the right one
The journey from armchair to garage is the hardest of the ride. Once the mental turmoil has been overcome – should I?/shouldn’t I? – the ride is always plain sailing, however cruel the conditions. The wet stuff can’t hurt you; it can only make you, well, wet. Properly clothed, even the chance of discomfort is diminished. We are no longer forced to ride in woollen jerseys that will become heavy as lead once water is in the fibres. New fabrics are more efficient in staving off precipitation.
Then there is the sheer satisfaction. Riding in the rain – through choice, mind you, not compulsion – steels the nerve and allows the rider to look upon the world with a sneaking sense of superiority. This is especially true of the UK cyclist. Forced to contend daily with conditions at which our pampered Continental conditions would blanche, we must be the hardiest of all riders. Witness Mark Cavendish ‘s heroic exploits in this year’s Milan-San Remo – 299 rain-hit, wind-blown kilometres contrived to send even the toughest of the breed to the team bus. His teeth may have chattered, but there was no quit in Cav.
On my way to Leeds to see the first stages of the Tour de France. I’m excited!! Oh, and I hope the weather isn’t too British… :P
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) April 20, 2014
His closest rival of recent years has been Germany’s Marcel Kittel. The Giant star (in every sense) Tweeted ahead of his visit to these shores this week to reccee the Grand Depart that he hoped the weather wouldn’t be “too British”. Predictably, Kittel was met with wind, rain, and freezing temperatures, not to mention a few pointed replies. A good chap, Kittel took the comments and the conditions in good spirit (a further example of a refreshingly self-deprecating sense of humour last witnessed in his ‘apology’ to the bike he flung to the ground at Tirreno-Adriatico), but Cav will know his weakness. Come July 5, England expects that every rain drop will do its duty.
If April showers are to mark a spring to follow the wettest winter on record, then we should greet it with open arms, a steady gaze and perhaps even the faintest trace of a smile. Do your worst, rain. You cannot harm us, nor stint our enthusiasm. We do not wait upon the fickle sun to show its golden face. We are road cyclists. From the UK. Your watery powers cannot harm us.