It’s not easy being British if you can’t complain about the weather, and so just recently, with all the rain we’ve had, we’ve finally had a lot to complain about. But in the end it all gets a bit much, doesn’t it? Just look at the soaking that we’ve had so far this year: in Kent, where I do most of my cycling, it’s rained four or five times more than the seasonal average, so it’s been especially difficult to get out for a ride. Commuters in London have had no choice but to get on their bikes over the past few days – that’s what a strike on the Underground system does. For the rest of us, though, we’ve just had to hide indoors and look up to the skies, longing for a break in the clouds.
And so while professional cyclists head for the sunshine of the Tour Down Under, or the desert sands of Qatar, Dubai and Oman, the rest of us are stuck in this perpetual cycle of rain that has us wondering if we should switch from bicycles to pedalos.
Last week I looked at my calendar and was horrified to see it was just two weeks to my first sportive of the year. I don’t have water wings on my bike, or a winter base in Mallorca or Nice, so there’s only one solution: get out the old turbo-trainer.
That is much easier said than done. First I have to find the machine at the back of the shed, then I must convince the wife of the necessity of clearing a space in the spare bedroom. After that I must set it all up, find the heart-rate monitor, install a computer on the spare bike, find a cover for the floor so that I don’t sweat on the carpet. This all takes far longer than I intended to ride for.
But finally everything is set up. Outside the wind is howling and the rain beats against the windows. Inside it is all snug as I plug myself into my iPod and set off at random for my stationery ride. First off is the sound of The Doors. A bit bizarrely, but probably quite apt, I find myself pedalling along to Riders on the Storm. Ah well, I’ll just have to put my head down and ride it out.