I felt it in my my fingers and yes, I felt it in my toes. Five and a half hours cycling in the rain. Near enough half of it was also with a 30 MpH side wind. I came awfully close to throwing in the towel when I got lost and took shelter in a barn, but let’s start from the beginning.
After 2 days in the Auberge de Jeunesse in Nantes I thought I had had just enough. Last night was great, I had the room by myself but the night before I, and the other two normal hostel people in the room, had to contend with a luny on the loose. This chap was packing and repacking his stuff late at night and then again at six in the morning. Never mind, I have learned to live with these things and they really don’t bother me much.
I left just before 10 and it was lightly raining, I thought I’d weather the storm and by the time I got to the outskirts of Nantes it had actually stopped raining so I took the very stylish blue mantle off. How wrong was I, it was less than ten minutes when the damn thing was on again and it was going to stay on all day. While this plastic contraption is excellent at keeping the upper body dry, I have discovered that the lower part kind of takes care of itself, it is effectively a sail and that, my friends is not a good thing. If you are riding into the wind it makes downhill feel like flat and, well, you get the picture. If the wind is behind you it flies all over your face which is not conducive to a long and prosperous life when you have to see where you’re going and who’s coming at you.
In the event the wind was coming from the west so it simply slowed me down and reduced the rain stopping capabilities of the cape.
In the first hour I covered eight miles or so, and I started worrying about making it to the B&B before lights out. The last thing I wanted to to do was start rummaging in the bags for my safety lights. I decided to take a picture (the one at the top). Taking it meant the bike got blown over twice by the wind, the flag got caught in the barbed wire protecting Christ, God knows why he needed protection, and the camera got wetter than I would have liked. This meant no more pictures for the day.
It did not get any better after that. First I got lost as it is not very practical to read the map on your phone under the rain, then there was an interval of torrential rain where my shoes got completely and unrecoverable wet then I finally got some shelter in a barn where I seriously considered to pitch the tent and go to sleep.
But I did not and a short four hours later I got rewarded with a warm shower, a warm towel rail and a hair drier. While the last two items might sound a bit eccentric to you, try having all the stuff you’ll need tomorrow morning soaking wet.
The only other thing I have to add is that of course I had to put the cherry on the cake. When I got to approximately ten miles from the B&B Google told me there was a cycle path that would have saved me sharing the road with lorries and fast spraying cars. Sounds good. Well I must come back and see it when it’s not raining and the actual path is visible rather than under 3 inches of water, Anyways I was too far into it by the time I realised it was a bad idea so I kept going. The good thing is I did not fall, was close twice though, and eventually I came ashore on the tarmac again.
#4 Google cycling directions are not for a rainy day
So, all in all I’m glad I did it, there were many times when I doubted myself and I had many opportunities to throw in the towel, but I did not. I am sure I will look back on this day of adversity with some hilarity when faced with far greater ones in months to come, but for now let me bid you farewell and leave you with some music.