Dreich weather makes for squelchy riding…11/6/2011

Photo - Forth Road Bridge - in the rain and the mist....
Forth Road Bridge - in the rain and the mist....

I’m feeling good

Several hours in to my weekend Firth of Forth circuit 75 mile cycle on Saturday, and I’m feeling good. With an 18-20mph avge speed, I’ve pushed on quickly and am enjoying the ride. Bo’ness and then Grangemouth have come and gone – traffic has been kind, the weather has been overcast and spotty but nothing too bad. The bike is behaving itself- the new shimano 105 brakesets that I swapped onto the bike last night are performing well and I’m lulled by the swish swish of the pedals and the gentle rolling sound on the Tarmac. Magic.

 

Torrential rain stops play? Not bloody likely…

Stopped for lunch 11:45 and the heavens opened – properly drenched not just dreich. Light has faded and the cloudy armageddon has caught up with me – I just knew that stopping in Kincardine would let it…. I waited impatiently for about half an hour hoping it would stop but it kept on raining – big drops bouncing high off the roads and beating mercilessly on my cycling helmet. I get going. I cycled home in my wet gear and was fine for the 1st hour. Constant looking around to check for traffic lets a cold, icy river amass around my neck and chest which trickles down my back and front to make a cold and heavy donut of icy water around my waist. I cycle on listening intently to the patter of rain and the swish of the trees. Cmon – Time to get home.

Getting soaked….

Head and face are soaked and dripping, and my fingers are losing sensation. My water proof gloves are anything but once water gets in at the wrist and works its way downhill to my fingers. The zip on my left hand foot shoe cover fails and opens up exposing my heel to traffic spray and water shoved up into the air by the bike wheels. My heel, then shoe then sock then foot get cold and sodden. Im squelching on the peddles now. My legs start to freeze from the ankles up.

I might as well be swimming

Glancing up at regular intervals it looks like I’m cycling through rivers of grey water, surrounded by grey clouds of water spray under a grey sky with yet more water falling towards me – but importantly I can now see the Forth Road Bridge as a dark grey structure against a light grey waterfilled sky and I know I’m on the last 10 miles. By now I’m completely soaked through and cold after 2.5 hours in the rain but I don’t care – Im still cycling, still moving, still breathing and the bike feels strong under me. If anything, I daren’t stop as the cycling activity is keeping me and my watery envelope warm. If I stop I know I’ll freeze so keeping moving is the new name of the game.

Safety Issues

Average speeds drop however as my brand new brake blocks start to dissolve under repeated braking in the rain. Brakes getting “fadey” in the wet means safety becomes paramount and my speed falls in favour of being more cautious approaching junctions or going downhill. I stop several times to quickly adjust the calipers to tighten up the braking action. This becomes even more obviously important as I witness a Toyota MR2 fishtail and spin 180 degrees exiting off of a roundabout across a torrent of water. The driver is ok but shakes slightly as he examines his car now sitting with its rear end pointing at the  hedgerow of the nearby fields. Once I know he’s okay I push on – I want to stay warm. I gingerly thread my way through the water and down through the streets of Cramond and then the city centre of Edinburgh marvelling at how much water is puddling around, splashing from one pothole to another, sluicing through slippery slopes of water. Eventually I reach Home to the cheering sight of a large mug of steaming hot tea and a hot bath. My vision is slightly blurred as though im just out of the swimming pool.

Yet more water..

A hot bath.

More water true but thus stuff is welcome and hot. I needed that.

77 miles – 5hrs 06minutes – 15.1 mph average speed and I’m glad to have got that. The hot bath afterwards has never ever felt so good.

It’s been a watery day…..

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