4. Rule #9

ost According to The Velominati’s Rules:

Rule #9 //
If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

The Rules always make me smile, and they’re always good to add a bit of humour to your cycling day. Other favourites of mine are rule #5, and rule #23 – its funny; some of The Rules I actually agree with and stick to, but overall, I treat it as a bit of clever and witty fun.

So, this morning was a morning for considering rule #9 and the badass accolade that comes with it. The recent snow is still very much at large in my part of the world and that makes cycle lanes, and side roads, pretty treacherous to use on when riding fairly skinny road tyres.

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All of these bits of ice are out to get me, obviously.

On top of the weather, I am currently putting up with the longest cold ever – I don’t mind feeling ill for a week or two around this time of year, but this thing is just silly – it’s been, like six weeks! Anyway, it was looking good for me to be rule #9ing things this morning.

The Wahoo ELEMNT was showing me 2°C. I sniffed and squinted into the morning light, my face no doubt wrinkled and painting a picture of how much I wasn’t looking forward to this ride. “Got to get the miles in”, I thought. “On longer, multi-day rides, I’m not going to have the luxury of choosing nice weather, and what if I get ill?” “Need to get it done, need to stop thinking of the 600cc motorcycle only a few yards away.”

It started to rain, as promised.

I thought back to a tweet by Laura Scott, an Ultra Endurance cyclist that I follow on Twitter, when she battled rainy day after rainy day whilst riding LEJOG 2017:

Poor Laura had suffered days of rain, but she had dug deep and carried on until the job was done. And Laura had many more miles to go than I did. I set the cranks turning and stopped thinking about it. Cheers, Laura 😉

Ten minutes later and I have climbed up out of the village and I am heading downhill towards the nearest town, which is introduced by a rather steep descent that often results in 35km/h and upwards if the roads are not too congested. My eyes flicked side to side, reading the information that was being delivered to me faster and faster as I accelerated down the somewhat slick and shiny looking road into town. There are two side roads that you need to watch out for here, one on the left and one on the right and the latter one dealt out the jackpot.

Oblivious, a silver people carrier rolled out in front of me and I hit the brakes as hard as I dared, keeping my line to the de-iced tyre tracks. The road looked good overall, but the tyre tracks are safest when conditions are icy. With most of my speed scrubbed off, I gently veered right to overtake but a traffic island put pay to that idea, I pulled up slightly on the brakes again and tucked in behind the vehicle. Shortly afterwards, the people carrier found the back of the nearby congestion through the town and I drew up next to it and took a look in at the driver.

The window came down and before the driver could get a word in, I asked if that manouevre was “really necessary?” “My dog isn’t well, she said, gesturing to the Golden Retriever in the back, panting happily with his tongue lolloping out of his mouth. “Neither am I.” I said. I sniffed for effect and carried on.

Half an hour in and my muscles are fully flooded with blood, my veins are dilated, everything has warmed up. The early morning aches have eased and I am slicing through the cold air of Epping Forest and thanking my lucky stars that I am just able to ride my bike, where so many others are not.

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The forest gives way to more urban areas.

45 minutes in and the tranquil forest to my left and right gives way as the beautiful East End of London is unrolling beneath my wheels. I start on the outskirts and then through into Leytonstone, Maryland Point, Stratford, Bow, Stepney Green, Aldgate, The City. The rain is still falling but hasn’t really got going so I am largely dry.

The traffic; the getting off from the lights first; the hopping between CS2 and the carriageway to maximise progress and minimise scrubbing hard-earned speed off with the brakes. Pre-empting the bad junctions, the black spots, chatting in the ASL, and now all of the pining for the motorcycle has evaporated. I have done the work, I have bagged the miles, and I roll on through the greatest city in the world, heading for work, and the hot shower that comes with it. Better still, there is only one way home for me; more time aboard the simplest, most elegant and most efficient vehicle there is.

Badass.

Strava log.

The next entry moves in to taking on mountains and a bit of elevation.

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