Sunday 26th Oct: Rain stops play

I wake up at six thirty at least an hour before my alarm is due to go off. So much for the advertised extra hour in bed. My excited bound to the window is greeted by heavy rain. Oh well so much for sunny October days.Decisions decisionsAutumnal rain brings its own wardrobe quandaries.Full heavy duty rain gear, or Shower proof. One underlayer, or full layering?, worries about wind chill if someone punctures. Will I be too hot? Oh my god none of this crap matches.. how will I look euro pro?

There seems to be two types of rain clothing. One to carry in case it rains, ie a fairly light weight jacket, or the “its already tipping down and I am still going out in this!” I plumb for Sealskin socks, gloves and my trusty Goretex and 5 spare tubes…( Farmer Giles has been cutting his hedges)
Its still early so I nip out to the garage to see if I can sort out my Mudguards in time, the homemade brackets and bolts far too small for this time of morning.
A text informs me that Jacque is suffering from a Velcro form of duvetness and is unable to escape; I wonder how many more will wuss out.
Twenty minutes after leaving home, my feet already soaking, and I am slowly circling the roundabout, half hoping that no-one turns up so that I can bugger off back to bed. I feel committed to turning up no matter what the weather as some kind of recharge for my self righteous ‘rideometer’
Only Pat braves the wind and rain and together we agree to do the full ride as planned.
We keep a gentle pace, side by side, generally chin-wagging about pretty much everything sportives, training, gps.Fallen leaves line the roads, and look lethally slick on corners I slow right up, its not worth taking a dive in such shabby conditions.A few short yet sharp hills warm me up a bit, and soon we are enjoying a reasonable tailwind as we pass through Chalton. The smell of Sunday lunch assails us as we pass but , despite the mouth watering smell, neither chooses to munch a delicious Energy bar.As we start up Ditcham three riders descend past us. I am sure that they had Velocity colours, confirmed as Pat recognizes Steve.
I am slow, Pat easily distances me on the climb, the heavy canopy sheltering us from the easing drizzle. I point out where I crashed two years ago, Its hot though, despite every flap open, I feel like a Mr Ben boil in the bag.I like the roll off the other side; cold wind whips at my open jacket, quickly chilling my chest. We bunny hop the bump by the cottage but a confident Pat streams ahead as the drop steepens again.I loose my back wheel, and as my arse puckers, I accidentally inhale my short chamois. Wet leaves, again, as they rot down they leave a thin slimy skein, ready to catch the hesitant or nervous rider like me,Pat seems oblivious to my discomfort and flys off down the roll off at the bottom.A right turn takes us into South Harting.A large branch, dislodged by the windy night, partially blocks part of the road, as we drop down a hill towards Rogate. Now I know its polite to point such things out when descending, but (from experience) I don’t like taking my hands off the bars while caning it down some of these gravelly , unpredictable lanes that I enjoy so much. To this end I have developed a ‘ chicken’ method of warning., where I flap my elbow on the side of the oncoming obstacle.. most of my riding partners know this odd code and it seems to work… especially amusing is the chicken flapping of both arms alerting a following rider of a obstacle across both sides (gravel) or a manic ‘slow down’ . I call it the chicken index. .I waggle my left arm to warn of the branch, though I am sure that Pat would have just seen my jacket flapping noisily in the wind. A mile or so later I am too busy admiring the picturesque humpback bridge and nearly manage to overcook the corner, which would have been a cold dip.I take it easy on the steady drag from Rogate as Pat draws clear. That boil in the bag sensation returns as I slowly gain a bit of height. Over Hillbrow and then we start another rolling descent towards Liss village.Sweet chestnuts punctuate the road, like dozens of squidged hedgehogs there punctured inards spilling stark against the wet road. The lobed leaves a chorus of colour, despite the misty miserable day.The Hampshire sign sneaks up on us , just as we cross a wider road, and tear off the other side, Pat has a nervous moment when his rear wheel clips a cat-eye ,and I back off watching his line, both of us weaving between the various letters of the painted ‘SLOW’ markings. The crossing gates are already down as we approach, sidling through the queue until we are next to a fat guy on a pub bike at the front of the queue.We duck under the gates as they start rising ( no worries we wont get disqualified)
Another knee creaking hill rears in front of us as we skirt along the edge of Little Switzerland and a very muddy lane spits us out half way up Steep. I love this hill, and as I ride around the hairpin it has an almost Alpinesque atmosphere. The amphitheatre to the right has thin cloudy wisps that lend to the scale.We hadn’t noticed the rain for a while, but near the top it starts again in earnest.Suitably muddy narrow back lanes lead us to East Meon with an obligatory Sunday driver seems determined to wipe us both out as we turn into Frogmore. ( hey a ride would be incomplete without one)The hill up the back of Butser proves to be my undoing, I had been relying on a café stop, and as a result I hadn’t taken on enough to drink. My left hamstring starts the unmistakable twinge of cramp. My best posh cheery wing commander “Hellew..” greets two sullen looking horse riders as I graunch my way over.A few youthful walkers are passed on the descent and just as Chalton approaches again, I spot an old colleague waiting in a van next to the pub. Bugger I can’t unclip and make a size ten dick of myself as I sprawl into the road front of his van. A sheepish exchange before we roll off again a brief headwind and on into Rowlands Castle. Neither of us can be bothered to stop for a warm drink so with a brief “ Stay safe” our intrepid and valiant duo head for warm homes.As I head home, Grahams words ring in my ears:
“Graham reckons some of his team mates need to toughen up a bit if they wanna make the cut. Far too much iffy behaviour at the weekend for my liking” I can’t agree more Graham.
Ode to mudguardsOn mudguards this ode is basedThe best way to avoid Belgian toothpaste.They rattle and don’t make you fasterYour arse with mud no longer will be plaster.Unless you are Boonen and already have a matching shit stripe.

( I now the last line doesn’t rhyme …but I couldn’t resist it… haha)
Tops tips for riding in the rain:
Avoid anything on the road that is white.Use mudguards. Respect fellow riders.Give up trying to decide on what the best apparel is .Resign yourself to the fact that you are going to get wet no matter what you wear. Goretex socks fill with water as water runs down your legs . They then look like comedy balloons.Your hands come out of waterproof gloves, white and crinkly anyway. Use diving dry gloves if you want totally dry hands. In-fact wear a full diving dry suit.. a red led blinker somewhere on your bike/person where it can fill with water and cease to function.Stay at home.
Stats:51 milesAverage 14.summatAscent: 1141mWeather: Poo


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