Author: Anthony Robson

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Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 10:50 am
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Out and About

“I can give you a lift.”

“I can give you a lift.”I did give the offer some thought as I stood staring out the window at the sheets of rain tumbling over the Pentlands turning the road outside into a river.

“Nah, it’s alright, I’ll ride in.”

I must have looked a sight coming out the door in my bright orange raincoat and 3/4 length trousers. It was actually warm, and I was looking forward to this. As I passed the first queue of cars, heading to the traffic lights a mere hundred yards from my house, I was probably thinking the same thought looking at each bored jammed commuter as they were at my being exposed to the elements: “Poor sod.”

I still feel that my sympathy is the only one which carries any weight. Riding in the rain is great, which is just as well given how much of it we get in this part of the country.
There will be plenty who disagree and, without waterproof head-to-toe covering, or even the luxury of mudguards, I gradually become soggier, and it is easy to see why there are those who would disagree. But then this is the main reason I love riding in the rain: no-one else does.

When the heavens descend there is a noticeable shift of people to their own cars. It’s not just those who normally walk or ride to work who find that, when things turn wet, the car is the only option. People even start to shun buses, not wanting to sit in the warm, damp environments they become, with the windows steaming and the constant sound of dripping, sodden passengers.

The roads get busy as I head into Edinburgh. The queues get longer down Lothian Road through the inevitable roadworks. And my journey time changes not one iota. The only weather which really affects the predictable commute time by bike is the wind.

Cycling in the High Street

And what the people sitting with the engine running in a slow-moving car park are missing is simply this – the weather. I guess that sounds pretty touchy-feely, and right now you may well be imagining me in a pair of sandles straining soup through my beard. But there is a lot to be said for experiencing what the world throws at you. It gives you a real sense of the change in seasons and a feel for exactly how to approach the day just be looking out of the window.

“But you get wet!” is the cry from my colleagues. Ah yes. But skin is waterproof and clothes can be discarded. The shirt I carried in my bag is perfectly dry, the suit hanging in the office cares not that it is raining outside, and the socks in my drawer scoff at the suggestion that it could be damp.

And so those in their cars are only halfway to work, stuck on the tributary routes because of the added traffic, while I am sitting dry, with a cup of coffee, refreshed and relaxed. I’d rather suffer 20 minutes of being wet, than double my commute time stuck listening to breakfast radio. And this is where the truly great part of riding to work in the rain comes in. How good does it feel to change from wet clothes to dry? How much do you cherish a hot cuppa after a wet or cold ride? You simply feel…. Good. Think how nice that first bite feels when you’ve been truly ravenous, that’s getting close.

Imagine how much easier that makes facing the day at your desk. Can you say the same after a 40 minute crawl through the rain in your car? Sure you stayed dry, but does that coffee taste as good? Do your clothes feel as comfortable?

Some things are just good for the soul.

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