So I started thinking about it. I can remember a day in October when I was packing my bike in to the van to head to the local trails in Wharncliffe when my boyfriend asked: “You’re heading to the woods now?”. His point was - it was pouring it down. Like, it was raining hard. A year earlier I would have never headed out in that weather. I would have cancelled on my riding date and stayed inside. So I understand his surprise when he saw me heading out on two wheels. But I really didn’t care, instead my only thought was: “Oh, it’s actually pretty warm despite the rain”. Now, if that’s not British thinking I don’t know what is.
It didn’t stop raining all day. And it was one of the best days on the bike all autumn. Me and my friend just kept riding, shredding trails in the wet and conquering one obstacle after the next. We were on fire, and the rain did not put us out.
Thinking back, it wasn’t the only time I surprised myself this autumn. A few weeks after this first incident, I headed up to Scotland, Innerleithen more specifically, with the same friend. It was late November and, once again, the weather forecast wasn’t in our favour. But in true “British” spirit the question wasn’t if we were still going to go, it was what kit to bring with us to stop us from getting too wet and cold. Once out on our big ride, we we weren’t upset by the rain or the fog, we were stoked that it “rained so little” and that we could occasionally see some cool views through small patches in the cloud. At the end of the day we were soaked to the bone, but we were absolutely buzzing from all the amazing trails we’d ridden.
The next day we’d booked on to the uplift shuttle and as it “didn’t even rain” that day, it felt like summer. If that’s not a British look on life, what is? “We didn’t even need a rain jacket today”, my Scandi friend who I was riding with said when we were driving back home after an amazing day shredding muddy Innerleithen trails. “I know. And the roots weren’t even that slippery”, I answered. Yep, I should have seen the signs right then and there.
Last but not least, the final proof of my Britishness: a day riding at Revolution Bike Park in Wales just before Christmas. Forecast was potential snow and no more than 4 degrees. We decided to head over anyway. Two hours later we arrived to a rainy hillside in Wales, the wind was picking up and the carpark seemed strangely empty. If this had been two years ago I think I would have turned around and driven right back home. But as the only thing on my mind was riding bikes, I proceeded to changing into riding gear whilst almost freezing my nipples off in the process. Anyone who’s tried changing clothes in a muddy car park without any kind of wind shelter during winter knows what I’m talking about.
As the day went on both the rain and wind picked up. And soon it was almost too cold to ride. We all had to stop and huddle around the small fire pit like penguins trying to survive a snow storm in order to stop shaking. One friend was panting so hard due to the cold: “It’s so cold I can’t breath when we ride”, she explained. My boyfriend who never seems to be bothered by the cold was trying to warm up his hands: “I can’t feel my hands”, he said. My third friend said in plain English: “It’s freezing”.
It only hit me then that maybe we should have stayed inside that day. That, what sane human goes riding in this kind of weather. However, we still proceeded to doing more laps in the park. I mean, if we’re not frozen to the ground, we can still ride, right? On an honest note: yes, I was really cold and slightly miserable, but I was still out riding trying to make the best out of the situation on a day where most riders would have (and did) quit riding long ago. If that doesn’t have a British ring to it, what does?
So my conclusion to all this wet weather riding is that, yes I’ve definitely become influenced by the country I now call home. I’ve started to think that it’s sunny when I can spot the sun through a layer of clouds. I don’t consider wearing a rain jacket unless it’s actually pouring. I expect muddy trails and get surprised when they are dry, not vice versa. And most importantly, I enjoy riding in the wet. So thank you Britain for teaching me to appreciate riding two wheels in all kinds of weather, it gives me so many more days together with my bike.