On cycling in the rain

Written by on October 21, 2013 in Learning to Breathe - 2 Comments

Ah, the London weather… What can I say? It’s raining. Again.

After a truly beautiful summer, the London rain seems to be back for good. And from the vengeance it is wrecking on us these days, it seems to be here to stay. Ok, I must admit (and please don’t kill me) that there was definitely a point this past summer that I dared to complain that it was too hot. Yes, I know, I know, when a heatwave hits the UK in any form, we should just sit back and enjoy it, because it normally won’t last very long.

But this past heatwave really lasted for quite a while and, well, you know, there’s no air conditioning in most London places (and certainly not in my flat), so it did start to feel a bit too hot at times. But I definitely remember the stern look that an English friend of mine gave me when I dared to utter the words that it was perhaps even a bit too hot. “Just enjoy it!” he snapped at me (obviously fearing that my complaint will somehow put an end to the surreally high temperatures). “This kind of weather won’t last that long.”

And, after over a month and a half of hot summer sun, the rain has returned to remind us what living in the UK really means. “You’re not in NY anymore,” it seems to be saying to me. “26 degree temperatures are just a mistaken mirage you should have enjoyed when you had the chance.” And so, upon returning from a long holiday away from traditional British weather, I am once again becoming accustomed to always carrying a small umbrella in my handbag. One thing I must say in praise of this typical of British weather conditions – no other country that I’ve visited so far sells quite so many little, tiny, cute umbrellas as this one does.

There is one big problem with this rain though – how it affects my cycling. I have to say that I’m one of these that you’ll see cycling through London traffic, and doing it in style no less. I’m not one to put on cycling gear. I don’t have to as I ride on traditional “Dutch-style” or “city” bikes with internal gears and skirt guards, thus ensuring that my clothes stay clean and my high-heeled shoes and boots don’t get ruined. Hence, just like the Dutch and Danish girls, who are known for stepping off their bikes and heading out for the night or to dinner in whatever lovely clothes they’ve just cycled in, I too step off and am ready to go. In fact, there was a period of time when everywhere I went, I’d cycled to.

But there was just one issue with that whole plan: the rain. You see having rain in London is almost a guarantee at some point in the day. Normally, one can calculate that point somewhat and avoid it, but sometimes… And for that sometimes occasion, I invested in wonderful raingear of all kinds. But there was nothing that I could wear (or that I wanted to wear at least) that would keep me from occasionally getting soaked when my planning wasn’t optimal or when the rain really was non-stop.

For the last few years, since I started cycling actively again, I would pride myself on being an all-weather cyclist. I wouldn’t let any type of weather conditions get in my way. I wouldn’t allow the rain to get me down or to stop me. Translated, what this actually means is that for the past few years, I would occasionally and all too often get totally and completely soaked. But that’s it! I am putting my foot down now. I am letting the weather beat me this time around. Because I am just completely sick and tired of always being cold and wet.

That’s right. I deserve better! I deserve to stay dry. Hence, this year, I am allowing my bike to stay parked outside and subject to all of the elements of this annoying British weather. My bike can get wet; but I am staying dry. I am trading in the bike and the big raincoats – through which the rain somehow manages to crawl anyway – for a big umbrella.

And, you know what, I don’t even feel bad about it. No, I don’t feel guilty at all. Instead of cycling, I’ll be walking. Or, if it’s really, really wet, I can even opt to jump into a taxi (if there is one as that’s usually hard to find in the rain) or a bus. And, when I see those poor, silly, (and terribly brave of course) all-weather cyclists out there getting completely soaked even in their rain and cycling gear, while I stay dry under my big umbrella, or safely tucked away in a bus or taxi, I will even give them a kind smile of pity and step aside so that they can pass me in their haste to get to their destination while still keeping maybe at least an inch of their bodies at least somewhat dry.


Stay tuned for the next entry in November which, quite appropriately for Thanksgiving, gives thanks.

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