It only happens when it rains

Days to the Tour Ride 2010: 3

I’m starting to think its something personal.  For the past few weeks, every time I’ve mounted my steed the heavens have opened.  Not just this but the clearer, milk-like sun filled skies have been toying with me, tantalising close whilst I am being soaked.  It’s not just on the bike, it also seems a perfectly acceptable metaphor for one other aspect of my life where I feel like the umbrella that I’m protected by is actually deluging rain whilst its sunny all around me.  Some would call it character building.  I’d say it has become more than a mild annoyance and reached the stage of moderate irritation. Call me paranoid but I’m now sat at the desk with cloudy yet bright skies outside dancing around taunting me.

At least I can’t be called a whimp, a poser or a fair weather cyclist.  This morning I had my last spin before the big event – in the rain! I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be.  Sunday will be a challenge but I will be its equal and as long as I finish before sunset it will be a success.  Some last-minute fine tuning to the bike and I am sorted.  I’m now in a very strange limbo.

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Some mild precipitation and a Spear & Jackson No 3

Some of my readers may have missed the reference to Eric Olthwaite in yesterday’s post, or seen it and been completely perplexed.  I too was in this state when my father-in-law first mentioned it and so I owe it to you and to Eric to enlighten you with this video.

Some of you may notice a similarity though I hope my OCD tendencies haven’t reached this level and that the content of my conversation is somewhat more interesting. Now where did I put that spade.

Wet socks weigh me down

I was due to update you on progress yesterday but I’m afraid the brief sunny interlude in an otherwise autumnal wet and windy day saw a trip to the great British garden centre and the fact that a ride in said weather had sapped me of most strength meant a slight postponement. To my avid reader I apologise and I hope the suspense wasn’t to much.  Yes, yesterday was truly aweful for the cyclist.  It was big ride time and having consulted various meteorological soothsayers online was convinced it would be dry, warm but a little breezy, mainly coming from the south east.  As riding into the headwind would also mean riding into Birmingham I’m sure you will agree that neither is an attractive proposition on its own and together a positive nightmare.

So, starting out under overcast skies I headed south to south-west towards the Severn valley and a rendezvous with Bewdley.  So far so good. Until I reach Alveley and as I approach a motley crew of club runners some shelter under a tree, others scatted on the side of the road as a fellow pedaller fixes a puncture, what should fall from the sky but some mild precipitation.  Only the mildness doesn’t last and as I descend some otherwise fast, smooth roads into Arley the rain just gets heavier. By this time I’m drenched. I’m half tempted to turn around with saddle pack between my legs and beat a sorry retreat home.

But no, my stubborn streak or determination, depending on your perspective, sees me through. Into Bewdley, over Habberley Hill, past the secret tunnels of Drakelow (as featured in Bollocks to Alton Towers no less!) and back through the soaked lanes of South Staffordshire. Three counties in three hours.  And all the time the broken cloud and watery sun toyed with me, tantalisingly close yet never quite reaching me.  And so I returned home wet. Very wet.

Still I shouldn’t complain – if I do I’ll end up sounding more and more like Eric Olthwaite – having been to the Newport Nocturne on Saturday night it could have been a lot worse, as illustrated below.

Cobbles plus Drizzle equals Danger

Crash, Bang, Wallop: What a Picture

A great night out and a slightly arty perspective on the night can be seen by clicking on the picture above (it takes you to my Flickr set so it is safe!).

So, less than 3 weeks to go now. Its all getting too close.

Rain stop play

Not that I was even about to venture out on the bike this weekend and the rain is doing its best to scupper the best laid plans of Mrs AB and me.  The plan was to get up early this morning, hit the local garden centre to acquire some vitally needed supplies and then hit the allotment to plant out the next batch of crops and all before heading home for a “not for the faint hearted” appointment with te Giro d’Ialia.  However, as I sit here typing this, part one of the plan was delayed.  We have achieved part two of the plan and I never knew netting a) came in so many forms and b) was so costly. Part four is still booked in and I really do hope Dve Harmon was right yesterday and I don’t waste the afternoon in front of the magic box.  But part 3 has been postponed.  Much like a Test Match in England or Tennis at Wimbledon, allotment has been delayed by rain.  There seems to be a pattern to this weeks posts and probably gives you the impression I have an aversion to rain.  I could blame Mrs AB and say it is all her doing, but alas that is wrong and I too have some dislike for the wet, particularly when I know that it will involve mud which sticks to your boots worse than a Flanders field.  No, we are telling ourselves the Metcheck.com is correct and it is merely a delay of between a few hours and tomorrow morning.  And so to use the time both wisely and recreationally.  I’ve got my place booked on the sofa and Mrs AB is making us both what she describes as a lazy lunch (beans, scrambled egg and sausage on toast) – this is all good. The bit I need to do is stay relaxed and calm.  I’m not good at relaxing. I recognise this. Its something I need to conquer in a paradoxical way. So this is the opportunity and relaxation is now today’s challenge and I’m determined to win!

My Del Amitri moment

I was hoping for something a bit more Shed Seven but instead I ended up with Justin Currie’s lament to misfortune as the earworm for tonight’s trip around the lanes.  Credit where credit is due, as my counsellor has instilled in me that I do, I managed to get out on the bike this evening, which is a marked improvement in last week’s sorry excuses.  Yet in the time from getting home from work, having a quick snack, passing the time of day with Mrs AB (who is ecited about the Robin chicks in the shed) and change into my kit, the sky turned from overcast but bright to looming and grey.  Not to be defeated by acts of God I took the plunge (probably the wrong expression given what comes soon) and cycled off.  By Pattingham the view wasn’t promising and neither the Wrekin nor Brown Clee were visible in the distance.  Fearing the worst I took a change of route an edged along the incoming doom, hence the wish for the clouds to go and rain on some other sucker’s parade (or “training” ride).  My tactic paid off until a mile and a half from home – the heaven’s opened and I was soaked to the skin in less than a few pedal strokes.

But looking on the bright side, I got 16 miles under my belt and the rain is great for the allotment meaning I haven’t had to take the daily trip down there and the relay of trips to the stand pipe to fill copious water cans.  Every cloud as they say.  Next time I’ll be just like a man. (That’s it with the Del Amitri I promise.)