Brother and Sister ride through the rain

My sister and her family came to visit today, only the second time they have all been at our house togther, and, like their first visit, the weather was awful. The rain lashed hard at the window, driven into needle points by a gusting wind. This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem normally, but my sister had come over especially to try out my Lemond Etape with a mind to borrow it for her first triathlon. She has a bike on order, but it’s very unlikely that it’ll arrive in time for her race. She’s been practicing on a mountain bike, a completely different experience from riding a road bike, even an entry-level racer like mine. Finally, having consumed incredible amounts of pizza, there was a break in the weather, and even though the sky was black with boiling angry clouds, and the wind was still blowing hard, my sister and I set out through the lanes, she on my Lemond, and I on the Brompton.

The roads were slick and muddy, punctuated with sudden huge puddles. Unexpected gusts slammed into us as we passed gaps in the hedges, blowing us off course and spraying us with droplets from overhanging trees. A solitary crow bowled past us, tumbling rather than flying. We headed through Rudge, my sister getting the hang of mvoing the brake levers to change gear. I only intended to go three miles or so, but I found myself shouting to follow the road to the right at the Full Moon pub rather than turn back and soon we were crossing the A36 and heading towards Frome. Whenever my sister asked how far it was back to the village I replied two miles, which it kind of was… as the crow flies. We turned into the wind which slammed into us, forcing us down to a mere crawl. We turned off the main Frome road down a tiny lane criss-crossed by gigantic pylons. The wind shrieked and howled through the wires, tugging them backwards and forwards. As we reached higher ground we could see that the undulating grass in the fields was moving like a squalling sea, and beyond the electric steel sentinals the sky was furious and inky, long smudges of rain hung beneath the clouds, there was no way we could outride the deluge. We crossed a main road and passed Lullington creamery, climbing up towards the turning to Woolverton. With appalling suddeness the light dimmed to a dull grey and the clouds were upon us, however, they raced over without any rain falling. A huge dead tree, it’s bark stripped off, standing stark and white on the horizon on contrast with the raging clouds, marked the right turn towards Woolverton. Riding that quarter of a mile stretch, my sister foolishly stated that we had escaped the rain. Within a minute we were in the midst of a merciless soaking. The wind seemed to be coming from every direction, the rain stung our faces, as I hauled the bike down the linking track that would deposit us onto the A36 at the Laverton junction. There then followed a scary twenty seconds as we had to wait in the middle of the road while a bus passed on the opposite side. A car squeezed past my sister, barely missing her (my) handlebars. We rode passed the Red Lion, our faces either grimacing or stuck in a rictus grin of cold. Now only three quarters of a mile to the village.

We made 10.5 miles, my sister pointed out that I said it was two miles to home at 6.3 miles. According to the speedo we pulled 27.5 mph at our fastest, which may be one of the fastest speeds I’ve gone on the Brompton, nothing like a rainstorm to improve your average speed.

My wife took a picture of us as we stood on the back steps at the end of the ride. As you can see she had her new digital SLR set to ‘make husband’s head look a really weird shape’ when she took the photo.

My sister and I after our ride through a rainstorm. I promise you that my head is not normally this weird looking

My sister and I after our ride through a rainstorm. I promise you that my head is not normally this weird looking

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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We dwell in a kingdom of rains

As is now standard procedure for the British Summer, it’s been belting down with rain over the bank holiday. Monday itself saw an astonishing downpour that lasted well into the afternoon and filled all four of my garden waterbutts to overflowing in the space of a couple of hours. It was the ‘straight down’ variety of rain that I don’t mind cycling in, however, no chance of a ride as I was looking after the anklebiters and also – need some rain gear.

Now I have looked at jackets and whatnot – I can’t really afford to be laying out for the type of technical doodads that one needs on a waterproof when cycling. Even when I’m pootling I’m averaging about 13-14mph and I get pretty warm, I would need one of those wicking fabrics. The colours seem to be quite garish and there’s a lot of logos and fancy styling around. I’m all for fancy styling and brand names etc, I think that’s fair enough for those who want to be associated with The Discovery Channel team, or if you don’t mind having ‘Chris Boardman’ on your helmet when you’re wheezing up a hill at 8mph. To me it would make no sense to wear something that advertises that which I am not. That’s why I have bidons with Rivendell Bicycle Works‘ logo and a no-name top and shorts. I am not really an aspirational rider in that sense. I am willing to pay good money for something that is well crafted and will last (a Brooks saddle for example) but not to have a whacking great logo splattered over me. I chose my Lemond etape bike for a few reasons:

  1. It was at the top of my price range
  2. It looked well made and had good reviews
  3. It had a triple chainring and I’m a weed on hills
  4. It looked elegant and nicely styled, particularly the typography and colours
  5. Greg Lemond is a great rider – but it says ‘Lemond’ not ‘Greg Lemond’
  6. Lemond looks French – which for some reason looks really good on a road bike

Above all that, it was the only bike in the shop that didn’t assault my eyes with garish blocky logos and hyperactive colours.

I guess that makes me a bit shallow, but anyway with that in mind I have decided that my wet weather gear will be this:

As it drapes over the handlebars and attaches to the rider’s thumbs, the ventilation is second to none. It’s bright yellow, bloody cheap and crucially, it has a matching sou’wester!