As with all Friday Night Rides, we met at Hyde Park Corner at 11:30pm and departed at midnight on the dot. Due to the recent disturbances, we took a different route out of London, and it seemed to me that we stopped less than on our previous rides as we were able to stick together a bit more.
When we finally got into the countryside it was past 2am. We rode along on country lanes, making small talk with various of the other riders, until it started to drizzle slightly just before the halfway stop at the Cabin Cafe in Faygate (which had opened especially for us!). No problem, I thought... we'll go inside for a snack and it'll clear up!
WRONG... It was still raining when we left the cafe and it was still raining when we arrived in Bognor Regis four hours later. I remember when we were in the cafe, BBC news was on and they showed the weather forecast. A huge groan rose up from the entire cafe, as we realised we were in for a night of terrible rain. Although my jacket was waterproof, after four hours of riding in the rain, the water had started to be absorbed on the slightly-less waterproof areas like the hems, and then slowly seeping upwards so that only my arms and waist were wet. And my feet! Oh, my feet were soaked. I was peddling in puddles inside my shoes.
Because of all the rain, Simon (the group leader) decided to alter the route a bit. Rather than walking through some fields and over a kissing gate (which would have avoided the hills of the South Downs) we stayed on the roads, going up and over on the A217. It was tough, but I actually LOVED the hill. In fact, I loved all the hills on this ride. They were rolling and not very steep, and I really felt that I could keep up my speed on them (and even pass some people!) which made me feel good.
My fingers and toes became wrinkled as if I had been in a long bath, and we both had to take our sunglasses (well, actually they are sunglasses with clear lenses, which we wear at night to protect our eyes, because we are that cool) off because it was impossible to see through all the water droplets. Without mudguards, the rain came right off my rear wheel and onto my butt. The water even went through the hole in my saddle making it feel like I had wet my pants! At one point as we were stopped in the rain waiting to regroup, I turned to Alberto and said, "this is what we do for fun..."
It was a little unpleasant, but it was fun. It felt like much more of an achievement to have to slog through the rain, and it made the reward of a breakfast at The Lobster Pot on the beach in Bognor Regis so much more satisfying! In fact, I actually think it was one of the most enjoyable routes I've ever done!
130 km in all, and it took us almost exactly 8 hours including all the stopping time. Can't wait for the next Friday Night Ride to the Coast!
|Sun starts to come out... just as we are ready to leave!|