How do you know when your a proper cyclist? When you consider buying a bike that’s worth more then a second hand car? (check) Own one of the aforementioned bikes? (not yet!) or when you’ll happily head out for a ride when all the weather reports are predicting a huge storm heading your way?
That last one sums me up this past Sunday. Despite the weather reports predicting doom and gloom, with 3-4″ rain and 20+mph winds I was getting the waterproof gear on and preparing to go out for a 60 mile ride!
After almost a month of planning I was buggered if I was going to let a little bad weather ruin the day, the original plans before the apocolyptic weather forecast would have seen about 20 people meeting up at Crystal Palace Park in South London for a nice little jaunt around the Kent Hills. Unfortunately due to the inclement weather only 3 of us turned up and I think that was because each of us lived within a reasonable distance from the start point! Except for Sam that is, who’d ridden from North London to do a Dulwich Paragon ride but none of those jessies turned up! She joined us for about 15 miles before turning back due to a niggling knee problem 😦 Most other attendees where looking at 7-10+ mile rides to get to the start and the rain was heaviest in the morning!
We chose to do the 45 mile route and set off for our planned lunch stop, a pub somewhere in in Kent (the Royal Oak I think). It started off all fairly sane as we where on main roads, it wasn’t until we got to the country lanes that the proper fun started! As we climbed some of the lanes we where meet with literally a stream of water heading back down! Whilst it was only drizzling at the time, the rain the previous night that had fallen on already saturated ground, turned the lanes into streams and I felt like a salmon in the mating season!
This in itself was quite amusing but some of the huge puddles we past/had to ride through where just great! It’s never a good sign when you see 4×4’s ahead spray water over the hedgerow, you just have to hope you get past that section before the water returns 🙂 Neither is spotting a water feature in the middle of the road as the drain is overflowing (pic to follow…)
By the time we made it to the pub the 3 of us where thoroughly soaked but the pub landlady was very kind and didn’t mind us hanging our soaking gloves/hats/overshoes/jackets etc on/near the radiator to dry 🙂 The food was excellent, very tasty sausages and mash with a great selection of veg. The coffee and fudge finished it off nicely and prepared us well for the climb up Croakham Hill that started about 0.1 miles from leaving the pub!
After that climb we had an excellent run down towards Westerham and I then got to tackle Croydon Road (I think) for the first time heading north (usually I come down this bit, so knew it was up hill!) – cue more flooded roads except this time the water had a decidely “pungent” smell, really had to think twice about taking a drink from the bottle after that setcion 😦
After a few more miles of lovely country lanes, including a little section that tested out bike handling skills as we picked a line through deposited piles of rocks/stones (not something you want to hit on skinny tyres @ 20mph) we re-joined civilzation and found our way back to the start. One rider peeled off early as, understandably, he didn’t fancy climbing Crystal Palace hill to have to turn back around to get home!
I got back home to find I’d left my keys indoors and the wife was at my parents house so I add another 5 miles to the daily total once I’d riddent there, had a shower and hot drink, then headed home with them again!
All in I did about 53 miles for the day and had a right blast! I’d say I’m certainly a certifiable cyclist 😀