You know how when you check the weather forecast for something, how you totally rely on it? Well that didn’t work out too well for me today.
On Friday, on a whim, I signed up for the Hertfordshire 100, a cycling sportive that begins and ends not too far away from me. I’d not been planning to do anything but although the weather was a little iffy, it seemed that any rain wouldn’t start until mid afternoon. Since I’d be leaving around 8.00am, and would be in the saddle for no more than five hours, I should be OK.
The evening before I double checked. Rain wouldn’t come until around 2.00pm.
So at 7.15am I headed off to the school 11km from me where the ride started. There were maybe 300 riders in total, going off in groups every few minutes. Some of our entry fee was being donated to Helping Rhinos, a charity that takes care of these wonderful animals. Cycling commentator Phil Liggett is a supporter of it, so he was sending us off on our way.
There were three ride options. A 100m ride, a 64m ride and a shorter ride. I was doing the middle. In fact it’s a little over 100km, which is plenty for me, especially as I was riding to and from the course adding another 24km or so (plus a few extra metres when I couldn’t find the school entrance at the start).
It was nippy when I headed out, and I had a race cape jacket bundled up in my cycling jersey. I decided I needed it for the ride to the start as it’s not warm at 7.15am.
I carried on wearing it for the first part of the ride, since it was still cold. I cursed myself for not wearing a vest and bringing arm warmers. Most sensible riders were in long sleeves. What ever happened to that endless summer?
I finally removed it after the first stop, to discover I was soaking underneath because of sweat. Oh joy. And then the rain came.
From that point on, it really didn’t stop. I put the jacket back on, but it’s only a cheap Decathlon one – by which I mean, one of their base models that they don’t suggest you ride for hours in.
Why didn’t I bring my fancy Gore breathable jacket? Well, it’s bulkier, and I didn’t think I’d be wearing one.
Hour after hour went by, and I just powered on regardless. (Incidentally, my Stages Power Meter claims I peaked at 900W which seems remarkable. Closer examination shows that this happened at a short sharp steep hill, and I think I did jump out of the saddle and hammer on the pedals to get over it, because I knew the little hill, and it’s short. But it’s pretty meaningless seeing those measures over short periods.)
I’m glad I didn’t bail on the ride, even if by the end I knew that my rear wheel needs truing – a hidden pothole under some surface water. I managed to avoid any major calamities, which can’t be said for the poor bloke who managed to snap his chain within 500m of the start.
But next time, I will make sure I’m more prepared for a day in the wet. I spent a long time when I got home, standing under a hot shower getting some heat back into my body.