Precipitation – 100%
Money donated by random stranger – £10
Other crazy cyclists passed – 4 (all on the same stretch and then no more)
Oasts – 5
New words learned – 1 (Oast)
Dry patches – 0
Asthma problems – 0
Amount of money drying on the radiator – £10
Belief in the word ‘waterproof’ – 25% (the Ortliebs really did do a good job of keeping all the water in that had spilled out of my bottle the other day)
New favourite country pubs – 1
Hills – 0.5 (maybe?!)
Energy gels carried around for the past month and not consumed – 1
Intended miles – 47
Phone/Strava freakouts – 5
Recorded miles – 31
Warm jackets borrowed – 1
Regrets – 0
A rainy bike ride really isn’t all that bad. Starting a ride in the rain is horrendous. It’s a mental thing, which really inhibits me from wanting to go outside. It just feels wrong. But today, I did it.
I decided that I would get as far as the post office (at the end of the street) and start from there. I can’t believe how glad I was that I did, as I received a £10 donation from a complete stranger that began chatting with me by saying, ‘You’re going to get wet.’ I was casually unlocking Peggy when a lady burst out of the shop and thrust a note into my hands. THANK YOU, Nicola Finch! It never fails to amaze me just how kind fellow humans can be. I’d never met this woman before but she has now had a wonderful impact on my adventure.
Well. That gave me the motivation I needed. Surely there were going to be rainy days in New Zealand. And away I went. I think it took less than two miles for the rain to soak me entirely. It was relentless and from all angles and in all sizes. I was in fact so wet, that, when trying to shelter my phone from the rain, I was utterly useless as I had turned into a cloud and was raining myself. Huge globules of water trickling from every part of me. Perhaps this is what they mean by, ‘at one with nature’.
I tried taking pictures of the views, they were so different from those in Dorset, with more woodland and definitely more sheep but my phone wasn’t really up for it so I just carried on cycling in the end. I got a couple of shots en route but decided that buildings were just about possible to capture in the dreary summer weather.
Other than not being able to take pictures, the main thing about wet days that I dislike is that I become an absolute hill pansy. There were some incredible descents today and I just slipped down them, killing my brakes. However, the uphills are more rewarding – finally a chance to get warm!
After about an hour and a half on the road, and at the point where my phone had begun rebooting incessantly for the third time, I decided to stop for my lunch. This is one of those moments where, ‘things happen for a reason’ rings true as I discovered my new favourite pub.
Dripping, I walked into the Queen’s Head in Sedlescombe and felt a lot like Maurice from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Everyone did their best to make me feel comfortable. I had a wonderful chat with a couple of the locals, Sue and Paul. It was the owner James and his son, Rory who really went to town though, with Rory setting off into the back room to fetch his fleece when he saw me shivering. They all thought I was a proper crazy loon and were all for throwing Peggy into the Landrover and getting me home and dry.
Then the food! OH THE FOOD! I need to go back to eat everything on the menu. I devoured a king prawn linguine with garlic bread and then in a desperate attempt to prolong my stay, an enormous portion of sticky toffee pudding.
So, it was a considerably longer pit stop than I was intending. I was just enjoying myself too much, listening to Mike, Rory and Paul’s travel plans and sharing my own. With the rain continuing to fall sideways and the unpredictable nature of my navigational tool, I made the decision to curtail the trip.
I really enjoyed my day out but loved coming back and getting DRY. Fingers crossed that the worst days in NZ are followed by the more luxurious hostel and WarmShowers stays!
It’s great that on a day where so many were stuck miserably gazing out of their windows, I was out and about, looking ridiculous with my stupid cycle smile plastered to my face.
UPDATE – Kindness of friends £100 from Aunty Sarah and Uncle Clive. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!