Heading out for this morning’s club run, there was something different about the sky. It was blue, there were no clouds and it was not raining. A little different to last week when the persistent, icy rain forced most of us dumb enough to ride out to seek a shorter route home. Different too to most of my commute rides. It’s been a rare day this year when at least one way the rain hasn’t been bouncing off my waterproof jacket. I heard a statistic once that the average cyclist only has 12 wet rides a year. Sure it was from Boris Johnson, so its accuracy is open to debate, but even if it is remotely true, I feel like I’ve had my 2014 quota for rain rides already. Twice over.
I rode in a group with five others and we set a good pace heading west into a light wind. Yes, even the winds were benign but just enough to dry off the roads, well mostly. Heading down the hill from Milton Earnest into the Ouse valley and across to Radwell we came upon a road closed sign. I had thought we might. The river was in full flood across the fields and road, but fortunately there is a pedestrian causeway spanning the flood plain. We dismounted and crossed.
Once across we got back on our bikes and rode on. By now it was starting to feel positively balmy. I was getting so warm that I had to pull my snood down from covering my ears.
The road between Odell and Harrold was also under water, so again we had to dismount and cross using the causeway. It was no great hardship, as I’ve mentioned before, I find there is something exotic about floods, the way they can so suddenly and dramatically transform a landscape.
We weren’t the only ones making the most of this respite between storms and rain-heavy weather fronts. Early on we had passed several mountain bikers bob-bob-bobbing along on their suspension bikes, later on other riders in small groups or alone. I had had a good ride with good company, but I left my group for home at Keysoe. I passed two Beds Road Club riders. I passed some pollarded willow along the road side, their branches flushed a fiery orange, a sure sign that spring is coming. Then I saw four more riders approaching the hill at Pertenhall, over to Kimbolton. I had planned to turn off, before the climb, and head to Staughton, but…
As I hit the bottom of the hill, one of them had been dropped and three were going up quite quickly. I passed the dropped rider and said something about not want to chase them. Between gasps he replied something about being 20 years younger, but by then I was moving out of earshot. I caught one, then the other two just over the top. They had eased up, so it was hardly a strain, and they looked equally unruffled by the climb. Seeing them, the dropped rider’s comment made more sense too. The three were juniors out on a recovery ride after racing on Saturday. I wonder how long their dad will keep riding out with them?