Someone once said there was no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. While I agree to a certain extent, I do have my limits, for I am no pluviophile. I prefer the words of Bob Marley – “Some people feel the rain, others just get wet”.
I am lucky enough to have some decent cycling clothing which goes some way to make riding in the worst weather a little more bearable but it can only buoy your spirits so far. A friend recently chided me for deciding not to go out for a ride because it was raining. When I have no choice and I have to do it for my job, then I will get on with it, but given the option, I would rather stay dry, no matter how good my clothing is.
A few weeks ago I had a 100 mile route I had to ride as part of a work commitment. I started in Crewe and was planning to cross the Peak District, via Flash (which at 1518 feet is the highest village in Britain), then descend to Matlock before riding through Nottingham and finishing in Melton Mowbray.
With a lot of climbing, 8,025ft of ascent to be precise, I knew it would be a long day in the saddle and as I left Crewe the rain was already bouncing off the tarmac. The first 16 miles had an uphill bias and contained my first 1000ft of ascent to a high-point on Biddulph Moor.
The climbing kept me warm and my clothing was keeping me dry, but I was dreaming of a break in the clouds and some sunshine. By the time I reached the western edge of the Peak District National Park there were glimmers of hope. There were breaks in the steely grey blanket above me and the sun was teasing the edges of the clouds.
My optimism was short-lived and the promise of blue sky above disappeared quickly as the rain came on harder. I’m sure the Peak District, in brighter conditions, is lovely, but as I rode through I didn’t see much of a view and the single-track roads were grotty with mud from farm traffic. To add to my chagrin the wind was picking up from the east and blowing directly in my face.
I stopped at Flash for a quick photo by the village sign, but I was only 31 miles into the ride and still had a long way to go.
Heading out of the Peak District the roads became less muddy, but the traffic became busier and the spray coming off passing vehicles was more annoying than the rain falling from the sky. At several points I considered packing it in, but I was on a tight schedule and missing out sections would only mean adding miles to my rides for the following days – I had to grit my teeth and get it done.
Seven hours after starting I made it into Melton Mowbray and pulled up at the door of my hotel for the night. I stood in reception dripping all over their carpet and didn’t hear a word of what the receptionist told me about WiFi codes and times for dining. Instead, all I could think of was stripping off and climbing into a hot bath or shower.
As I stood in the shower my wife shouted through the door: “Looks like more rain tomorrow”. I sighed and consoled myself that tomorrow was only 70 miles – thank goodness for small mercies.
Description: There is a lot of good road cycling to be had in the Peak District, although some roads can be busier than others, so it is worth doing a bit of homework first and choosing the quite roads to avoid the faster traffic. Flash (the highest village in Britain) is just to the west of the A53, south of Buxton. My favourite approach is from the west with the option of a couple of approaches from Allgreave.