I’ve been thinking for a while now that I ought to become less feeble about cycling in the rain. What sort of cyclist – especially one who wants their bike to be their main form of transport, and even more especially one who lives in South west Scotland – wimps out at the slightest sign of moisture coming from the sky? After all, it’s only water, my skin is waterproof, you dry out etc. etc. – how bad can it be? On the other hand, as other people have said more eloquently than me, what’s the point of doing things the hard way and making oneself miserable, just to win some unspoken macho masochism competition? For the first half of this year, the problem solved itself because there was much less rain than anyone can remember, and the number of times I had to postpone a ride – or take the car – was pretty low. But normal service has been resumed and last week I didn’t go down for the paper on the bike once. Braving showers is one thing, but I still balk at setting off cold-bloodedly in the rain, knowing that it would persist for the whole ride. Was I a proper cyclist or wasn’t I? How serious was I about actually cutting the amount we drive when cycling wasn’t also the pleasant, easy thing to do?
This week, I was determined to be a bit tougher. Yesterday, I set off on a greyish threatening day in a gap between the showers and I got away with it – it was possibly the only dry hour of the whole early part of the day. Today was going to be a more challenging test; I had to be in Bigtown for 11 am and it was not looking good. By 9 am it was bucketing down and there was a severe weather warning on the Met Office website. This was going to be a good test of my new resolve. I watched out of the window, as the hour passed until I set off, with no sign of it stopping raining. I’d be fine. I’d do it. I’d survive. I just had to nerve myself up to it, that was all…
I checked my email, and the event was cancelled. I won’t say I’m not relieved.
And yet, the issue hasn’t really gone away, just been postponed. One problem – and this is embarrassing to admit, having lived in what must be the wettest part of the country for two years – is that I don’t really have any decent rain gear. I have my scary yellow jacket but it’s not entirely waterproof and besides, it is really only fit to wear on a bike and so it’s no good for cycling into town and running errands once I’m there. And I don’t particularly fancy the sort of anorak that’s designed to be seen from the top of a mountain, or a rescue helicopter, which seems to be the only sort that can be found for sale in Bigtown. Somewhere out there, surely, is the perfect rain jacket – lightweight, stylish, breathable, smart, non-fleece, bike-friendly but not screaming ‘bike’ and definitely, definitely, definitely not yellow. It’s just a matter of finding it.
What do you wear?