Summary: We cycled a circular route from Faringdon (between Oxford and Swindon) on a very wet and cold day in October. It was wet. It was cold. Here are a few lessons I learned from the trip
We had booked a hotel in Faringdon for a short weekend and a day’s cycling. The Friday was a sunny Autumn day. Sunday was glorious weather. However, we were cycling on the Saturday which was a horrible day, weather-wise. I’m a fair-weather cyclist, lol. This was going to be a challenge!
We had planned a couple of different routes and, on the day, this was the route I cycled. It’s 65 miles on roads between Oxford and Swindon. It’s mostly country lanes but with some short busy road sections as well.
Lessons Learned from the Ride
I’ve not cycled in wet and cold weather very often. These lessons may be obvious but I’ll know better next time.
1. More shorter stops for coffee
We started at 9.30am (finishing at 3.30pm) and cycled the route without many stops; we did this to get the ride completed as quickly as possible. Our longest stop was 40 minutes where we grabbed a coffee and a sandwich at a petrol station. In hindsight, this was a bit too long because we cooled down (if that was even possible) and restarting afterwards was very, very cold and difficult.
Another time, I might have stopped for more coffee/warmth breaks but made them shorter.
2. Better protection for hands and feet
I forgot my longer gloves and had to wear fingerless gloves on the ride. As a result, it was very difficult to change gear from halfway through the ride because my left hand was cold and numb. Longer and waterproof gloves would offer more protection.
Waterproof socks, I don’t know if these exist but I didn’t have any. After a couple of hours on the bike, at the petrol station stop, I walked on feet like ice blocks from my bike to the shop to buy coffee. It was a rather unusual sensation but not one I want to repeat!
- Tip: A mate told me that he wears plastic bags on his feet to protect them on wet rides. I think he wears them over socks and inside shoes. I’ll try that next time.
3. Waterproof cycling tops are only partly effective
My top half was reasonably dry during the ride but water dripping off my jacket meant that my lower body was not! I would probably wear baggy cycling trousers next time.
Clearly, my lessons are mostly about better preparedness. In the main, it was waterproofing where I was lacking. Riding a bike for five or six hours means that you generate body heat and with more waterproof cycling kit I would have been able to keep that warmth for longer.
I’m pleased that I finished the ride because it was definitely a different type of challenge.