Why we ride
There’s a moment, just before you draw back the curtains on the morning of a ride, when the day ahead is quite perfectly formed. The route is set, meeting points agreed and equipment readied. And even though we understand that the weather can be a capricious companion, there’s an innate optimism that can fly in the face of considered forecasts. We become experts at looking for that window of opportunity on the satellite maps we check with increasing frequency as our ride day nears.
All too often, however, the reality fails to meet these expectations. Any ride, at any time of the year, can fall foul of the weather gods. Especially in winter – after coffees are drunk and layers adjusted – you notice an involuntary narrowing of the shoulders as riders roll out their bikes; elbows hugging sides as they struggle to maintain warmth before the effort of riding counteracts the bitter wind. When feet gradually numb, finger tips burn with the cold and you taste the grit spun up from the wheel in front; even the most hardened rouleur can question their commitment to ride.
So why venture out and forgo temperature controlled comfort? When cloud shrouded summits, ice paved roads and the water droplets that blur a Garmin’s passage only act to acknowledge a combative relationship with the weather. When what awaits is windswept moorland and muddy lanes; hard roads for hard riding.
In an effort not to be defeated by the weather’s unpredictable whims, we choose rather to deflect the disappointment of a rain-sodden route with humour and good companions. We ride forearmed with hopes that the wind will drop and the sky will clear.
We ride to escape the pressures of daily life; seeking adventure in an increasingly structured world as we simplify decisions down to the turn of a pedal. We ride for the laughter, the stories shared, the quiet words of concern. The waiting after a climb and the out-stretched arm. We brave the elements in the knowledge that the road is always there to welcome us.
In defiance of the wind and driving rain, on Saturday 18th March two groups of women rolled out of the Rapha Clubhouse in Manchester. These words and pictures are dedicated to those who chose to ‘brave the elements’ with good humour and a shared sense of comradeship.
Thanks to Dean for help with the photographs and the warm welcome back at CCMCR.