Confessions of a Fair-Weather Cyclist

‘Oh so you’re a fair weather cyclist, are you?’ the guy asked as I was discussing arrangements to join a charity CTC ride over the weekend. During the five minutes we’d been on the phone, the heavens had opened and about an inch of rain had been dumped on the surrounding countryside, and I wasn’t sure I felt that a 20-mile jolly, tea and buns or no tea and buns, was going to be all that appealing if it continued

I suppose, in many ways I am a fair weather cyclist; I mostly avoid riding in the rain if I can. My schedule is more or less my own so I can generally wait it out if it’s raining and if it doesn’t stop, we use the car. And, frankly, I can’t see the point of going out for what is basically a fun ride when it’s no fun at all in the rain. Now that I’ve got the apocalypse-proof jacket, I’m more likely to risk it starting to rain when I’m on the bike, and riding in the rain usually isn’t all that bad (although it can still be quite grim if it puts its mind to it), but setting out in it? No, not if I can help it. But then, on the other hand, I cycle all through the year, through wind and ice and snow, and I wonder how many of the people who were planning on turning up on a Sunday run in August can really say that, particularly those who start off by driving to the rendezvous in their car? Not that I’m judging or anything. Well maybe a little bit, but not as much as calling someone a fair-weather cyclist.

As it happened, the weather was looking dodgy and I had stuff to do (and I actually did it too, which is something of a first) so I decided against the jolly and ended up cycling down to the garage instead for some milk, a far less scenic, but possibly more useful ride. And as I ground my way back into the teeth of a distinctly autumnal headwind, with a sprinkling of drizzle thrown in for the hell of it, any passing person might have heard the sound of muttering through clenched teeth:

‘call me a fair-weather cyclist would they? I’ll show them fair-weather cycling, I will …’

Yeah, it still rankles…

11 Responses to Confessions of a Fair-Weather Cyclist

  1. tlatet says:

    Although I generally try to avoid rain too, it doesn’t always work out that way. And overcoming adverse conditions can be very satisfying. For inspiration – I found these pictures yesterday. I was looking for information on Albert Winstanley. They show him, and other cyclists in the snow in the 1960’s.

  2. disgruntled says:

    I much prefer snow to rain (although, weather gods, not until December, mmkay?). Those conditions look horribly icy though

  3. Andy in Germany says:

    I’ve had that on occasion as well. We are very quick to call people names in the cause of getting them to do what we want sometimes.

  4. AllSeasonsCyclist says:

    With the right clothing I still enjoy riding my bikes when the temperature goes all the way down to zero. I have two winter bikes right now (one road, one mountain) and will be buying a Surly Pugsley next month for when the snow gets really deep!

  5. Jo says:

    Running out of milk or having an appointment are about the only reasons to get me out on the bike if it’s pouring but if starts once I’m out, I can live with it. Especially after Wednesday night. When there are puddles of water collecting in your sandals, you know it’s officially heavy rain 🙄

    FWIW, I’d never call anyone who regularly cycles in Scotland a fair-weather cyclist. There are many other descriptions that come to mind, but now that one 😉

  6. Jo says:


    Someone really needs to develop a spell-checker that deals with the incorrect use of correctly spelt words…

  7. Nick says:

    I would definitely be a fair weather cyclist if only I could find some fair weather, but it’s been in very short supply round here for the past couple of months. I do, though, draw the line at setting off in it if it’s raining hard – and there’s been a lot of that about lately. Worst of all, I keep hearing news from down south where we have a small house that we can’t, for the moment get to, that it’s been 35 – 40C there nearly every day lately. Now THAT’S fair weather for cycling!

  8. disgruntled says:

    Andy – really? I’m amazed, given your setup
    AllSeasonsCyclist – I’m guessing you mean 0° F there (even I am happy cycling at 0° C)
    Jo – I suppose we’re all cyclists in Scotland up here so that cancels out. And we have compensations for the weather…
    Nick – I bet once you’re down there you’ll get people telling you that 35-40C is far too HOT to cycle in…

  9. Autolycus says:

    I wear glasses, so I reckon I’d be a danger to everyone if I rode in the rain.

    Well, that’s my excuse.

    Does anyone still make those overall hooded cycling cape things that used to drapable from handlebars to panniers – if I had one of those with a very long peak in front, I might contemplate it. Except that it would weigh far too much, I suppose…..

  10. disgruntled says:

    Oh yes. I expect they transform into a spinnaker in a cross breeze though

  11. […] don’t think I’ll go out in it. Does that make me a fair weather cyclist? Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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