Sunday, 10 February 2013

Rain, wind and fog – but it didn't phase me!

Soaked in the fog, wind and rain, 0825hrs, Sunday 10 February 2013.
It's been an interesting weekend weather-wise. Yesterday morning (Saturday) there was a wonderful sunrise with a huge orb burning on the horizon and silhouetting the bare trees against a purple sky. Sadly, I didn't have my camera on me, otherwise I'd have taken a shot of it. Besides, it was a rushed ride for me, a non-stop special to Botley, round the roundabout and home. The weather was fantastic. A little cold, but generally fine, albeit mildly wet, not because of rain during the ride but definitely in the early hours of the morning. Puddles on the roadside provided plenty of evidence.

I'd left the house early due to family commitments and met Andy at the Green. We headed off for the Tatsfield Bus Stop, but Andy had to turn back just beyond Knights Garden Centre and I continued alone and turned around at the mini-roundabout.

Sunday was going to be Westerham, or even Redhill, but the weather dictated otherwise. There was a fine rain when I went out around 7am and it was touch and go. I texted Andy and we decided to meet at the Green, but as I my ride progressed, the rain, while still fairly mild and not really a big problem, increased slightly in its intensity. When I reached Warlingham Green I thought I saw Andy talking to another cyclist, but it turned out to be two complete strangers who were off on a long ride towards Reigate Hill. They asked me to join them, but I declined. Actually, they weren't total strangers. I'd met one of them a few weeks back and we chewed the fat about bikes and stuff.

My phone said '10 missed calls' and 'one message' and they were all from Andy. The rain had picked up a bit over Caterham way and he decided to abort. Now, I could have turned around and come home, but I persevered a little bit, reaching Warlingham Town Hall and riding into its small car park where I made a few circles while deciding whether to carry on or just go home. It wasn't too bad out, I thought to myself, and then exited the car park left and headed up the road towards Botley. There was a wind coming straight at me, which made the rain seem worse than it was. In fact, if I turned the bike around, as I did twice while still deciding whether to push ahead or not, I noticed that travelling north, with the wind behind me, was far more pleasant than riding south. But I was out and even facing the wind wasn't that bad so I carried on, past Sainsbury's, past the pub that has been turned into a coffee shop, called something like Anana and on towards the garden centre and then the pond on the corner of Slines Oak Road. I passed Ledgers Road thinking 'if I turn around now it'll be ten miles all in', but no, I kept going.

It's amazing how, once out in the rain it never seems as bad as it looks when you're indoors looking out.  I knew that I was going to make it all the way to Botley, although as the journey progressed, past that lonely bus stop that marks the end of the hill on the 269 the wind increased as the terrain became more exposed and a fog appeared to be rolling in. With only a front light – my rear light needed new batteries – I moved on to the thorn-ridden pathway that runs the length of the road but decided to hit the road again as I didn't want to risk a puncture. At one point, I was beginning to regret coming out – or rather I was beginning to regret going further than just Knights as I was facing thick fog, rain and wind, but I was well beyond the point of no return and was very pleased when I saw the broken Botley Hill pub sign.

Bearing in mind the conditions, I didn't go as far as the mini roundabout and settled for the gate to the pub on which I rested the Kona while I took the photograph accompanying this post.

There were other cyclists out, but only the hardy few. Once the shot was taken I headed back home with the wind behind me, but still got soaked. There were puddles lining the roads most of the way back, including one huge one that spanned the width of the road. I waited for cars travelling in both directions to go through the puddle first before aiming the bike at the middle of the road – where there was less puddle – and made my own way through. Then I stopped to take a shot of the puddle, resting the camera on the ground so it looked like a huge lake; except that on this occasion it just looked like a puddle and I didn't have the inclination to try different angles to achieve my sad objective. I found myself standing there, in the middle of the road, soaking wet, thinking to myself, how ridiculous! Taking a photograph of a puddle on a rainy day. It's not as if I haven't got anything better to do! Realising what a complete nob cheese I was being, I packed away the camera, mounted the bike and headed for home.

Once I reached the downhill bit of the 269 I experienced a lot of face-ache; it was like an ice cream headache and it didn't wear off until I'd slowed down on my approach to the Sainsbury's roundabout.

I had a bit of a headache anyway, thanks to a couple of glasses of red wine the night before – we had cottage pie and there's nowt better than a glass or two to go with it. I'd only had a couple of glasses – alright, three or four – but I woke up around 0330hrs with the beginnings of a headache. I must have fallen back to sleep because I was awakened by Radio Four and Something Understood, which this week featured the Dalai Lama talking about Buddhism. Normally I'm up and out of bed by just gone six, but today I just lay there listening to the radio until 0630hrs when I jumped out of bed and quickly changed, made the tea and caught a bit of breakfast TV before going out and noticing the rain. That was when I called Andy and we decided to meet at the Green.

I was soaked through when I reached home and had to change into my dressing gown (which I'm still wearing now at 1124hrs). Tea, an egg sandwich, Shredded Wheat and bread and marmalade (St Dalfour Orange and Ginger, did the trick and now, as the rain continues outside, I sit here writing this post glad that despite the rain, I got out there and rode the bike.

Both today and yesterday I clocked up 14 miles so that's 28 in total. Not bad considering the rain normally manages to abort the ride. Here's to better weather next week.

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