I’m not a fan of heavy rain. After running Reading Half Marathon in atrocious conditions earlier this year I’m firmly of the opinion that my enjoyment of outdoor activities is weather dependent.
When the other half decided to enter a local mountain biking event, Uptonogood, I held off making a decision until the day beforehand so I could check the weather forecast first. Despite very windy conditions there was no rain predicted so I signed up too.
The event was family friendly, with 5 and 12 mile off-road rides alongside 25 and 45 mile routes for adults. Eldest daughter and other half entered the 12 mile ride with a mid-morning start time. My son had other activities early on so we opted for the 5 mile ride starting at 1.30pm
Fast forward to the morning of the event and the Met Office had sneakily updated their forecast to one showing an 80% chance of heavy rain, hail and thunder at 1pm. Aargh!
My son and I left at noon to cycle to Upton, where the event was being held. Despite setting off in sunshine there were some ominous clouds in the direction we were heading, and I was glad we’d brought waterproofs. We arrived in time for a BBQ lunch and homemade cakes, and met up with the other half of the family who’d just finished the 12 miler.
The rain started a few minutes before we set off. It was pretty light to begin with, but soon progressed to a torrential downpour.
The first part of the ride took us out of the village towards the Ridgeway. After a short road stretch, we soon headed upwards onto the Downs. I know the area well, and it’s a lovely cycle ride, but the downpour did spoil things a little! We tried hiding under trees for a few minutes, in the hope that it would pass over, but we’d have been waiting quite a while.
The route was well signposted, and on good tracks. A short section through a field was incredibly slippy, resulting in a few of the kids parting from their bicycles. The rain was unrelenting, and all of the riders were soaked through with mud streaks up our backs; we looked like proper mountain bikers!
The last part of the ride was on tarmac, albeit most of this had disappeared under streams. We cycled through deep puddles as we were already so wet it didn’t seem like it would make a difference.
As we rode down the track back into Upton the rain started to ease and by the time we finished blue sky and sun had reappeared. Still, getting off our bikes was a very uncomfortable experience as we were soaked to the skin and had squelchy shoes. Despite the weather, we had a fun time. I’d certainly enter again, hopefully on a longer dry ride next year!
More info: http://www.uptonogood.org.uk