Sure enough there was a heavy and persistent drizzle falling from the heavens, so wet in fact that I paused to put a cover over my leather saddle. A drenched Brooks saddle is a ruined saddle. I was off at 6am into the warm, dark tropical wetness. I don't mind riding in the rain but I do have a problem stopping in it. I really don't like stopping for anything when its wet. I find that when I stop I just start getting cold. I rode until daybreak at 7am and the rain just got heavier. Or perhaps it was just that I could now see it persisting down. I certainly couldn't complain about the wind, as there wasn't any. Because it was about 17C I was wearing my light rain jacket not wanting to overheat by wearing the heavier jacket that I had packed in case the temp dropped. The down side of the light jacket was that by 8am I was soaking wet and although warm enough on the ups I was getting pretty chilled whenever the road headed downwards.
Three hours South of Nelson, I was having doubts as to whether the whole thing was going to pan out the way I had hoped. I just couldn't get the thought of stopping later that evening for dinner , and being wet and cold while I ate it, out of my head. I knew that after finishing the meal I would still have 80kms to cover in the dark and rain before reaching the half way point. I had then planned to have a sleep in the booked cabin and start back at first light. As I rode on the more I thought about the whole thing the more I decided that under these horrendous conditions I was unlikely to finish it within the time limit.
I stopped in the middle of nowhere, in the fog and gloom, and started cycling in circles trying to decide whether to go on or turn back. After two complete circles I was on my way back telling myself that I was not going to beat myself up about it too much. After all the weather was truly crap and everyone knows in my region that if its raining in Nelson you are not likely to ride out of it by heading West. I was for a while concerned as I rode back home that the weather may clear as I approached Nelson again but that was allayed as I descended the last hill towards the coast and found that if anything, the rain was falling with more vigour than when I left 5hours earlier.
I pushed my soaking bike back into the house, stripped off my sodden clothes, and jumped into the shower still pleased with my decision. Unbeknown to me, while I was soaping the road grime away Henry was eating my fried sausages.
What has been very satisfying is that for the next four days it has rained every day, flooding the local roads and creating havoc on the West Coast. During that time I have been on the couch with a book and a coffee telling Adi how lucky I was not to have carried on further. Four days of self righteously telling myself that this is no weather to cycle in was enough even for me. So with a bit of a prod from the better half on the fifth day of rain Adi and I where out on our bikes again.
The weather was still tropical and our 100km circuit contained a couple of options. There was a stay above the ground water option that Adi choose, or an option along the West bank of the Motueka River where the road and river became one at a number of different points. The later option was one that I wanted to complete not because I thought at that stage that it would be more fun, but because a car driver coming the other way told me not to go on because the road was impassable. Well that was like a red rag to a bull. No car driver tells me that a road is impassable. What would they know? It's an effort for most of them to lift their bum out at the petrol station to re-fuel themselves and their vehicle. So into the flood water I plunged on the Mercian after first putting him into low gear. She was pretty deep and if I hadn't have been having so much fun I may have concerned myself with how much damage I was doing to the equipment.
|Jolly Good Fun.|
Today in the sun while admiring my bike while it stood on the deck I notice that there is still water draining from the interstitial rim space. I have also today, had to strip down the headset and repack it with grease. Other than that though all else seems OK, even though it was up to its brake callipers at times.
I still have no firm plans on how much long distance cycling I'll be doing this winter. But come August / September I will need to regain the fitness lost over winter and start training for Paris-Brest- Paris qualifying. I have thrown my 'cut down on sugar' diet out of the window and have now regained all the weight that I lost while cycling across Canada last year.