A 20 mile sharpener last night, followed by a full on 90 miles today, most of which was part of the Essex Castles ride and all of which was in the driving, pissing rain.
Believe it or not, there are lots of good things about riding over 90 sodden miles without a single break in the downpour.
You’re wet before the ride has even begun. Feet, cycling shorts, top, gloves, the lot. Very quickly you stop being bothered about getting wet and just get on with enjoying the ride.
No sunglasses. Which means no-one notices your £7.99 Decathlon efforts get steamed up and covered in sweat at the slightest hint of heat, and have to be removed for your own safety, leaving you squinting into the light.
Talking of sweat. There’s far less of it in the rain, that means less stinkiness and fewer drags from your bidon (pretentious for water bottle). This means your expensive carb drink lasts longer and you only have to get one extra Lucozade Sport from Costcutters on your way round.
And fewer wee stops too.
However good everyone else’s bike, however stylish their top of the range gear, however swish their tyres or fresh their brakes, this kind of rain soaks everyone through exactly the same and makes everyone’s bike handling pretty cruddy. Everyone else has a face and eyes full of grit too.
Out here it’s all equals-pequals.
Puddles. Very deep ones, right across the road. Not only does that slow everyone up, but you can do that thing you used to do as a kid where you bomb through the water with your feet hitched up into the air. Classic behaviour at 35.
The cake (see above) tastes oh-so-much-better when you stop for a slab, along with a searing hot cup of thick and filthy Nescafe half way round.
You get to feel hard. The heavier the rain, the more people stare from the warmth of their front rooms. And the harder you feel. (Of course, they don’t think you’re hard. They think you’re stupid).
The stiff-upper-lip, we’re all in this together atmosphere which comes from of hundreds of riders who’ve turned out anyway, despite the weather. A little like Wimbledon, but with squashed malt loaf instead of strawberries and cream.
The lust, the longing, the driving motivation that soon, not too long now, just a little further, and you’ll be home, warm and wearing your pyjamas at three in the afternoon.
Watching five hours of muck run down the plug hole as you stand luxuriously under a power shower you’ve just cranked up to 40 degrees. Soon, you’ll add some of that incredibly strong mint shampoo to the mix. Soon. But not just yet.
Eggs. Specifically omelette shaped and filled with red peppers bulging with vitamin C, backed up with the buzz from just a little too much chilli. A protein reward for a job well done. Delicious.
The forecast is sunny for tomorrow. I think I’ll have a rest day.