It turns out the weather forecast these days is pretty accurate. Unfortunately. It was freezing cold but the skies were clear when around 70 hardy souls set off from Cheadle. Apparently 42 people did not start, which is unusual for hardy audaxers although perhaps sensible.
In true Pablo-stylee I was wearing 5 layers but it was still freezing, especially my fingers and toes. In fact the temperature didn’t get above freezing as far as I could see and it was quite a nervy ride because of the ice on the verges and edge of the road. After the first control at 30 miles or so it started to gently rain. White rain. Otherwise known as snow. Riding due south directly into the teeth of the headwind, the snow was being blown hard into my face, and it stung. And stuck to my beard! And it was getting worse, starting to stick to the fields and, worryingly, the road. Luckily (!?) after 5 miles or so it turned to heavy rain. By now my feet, encased in waterproof Sealskinz overshoes over Northwave Fahrenheit waterproof boots over Sealskinz waterproof socks, were soaking wet with icy water. My hands, encased in Sealskinz waterproof extreme winter gloves, were also soaking wet with icy water, and I was slowly losing the feeling in them, and any coherent movement.
At the turn I didn’t bother with a cafe stop – I ate a couple of bars and headed north aided by the now stronger tailwind. A change of gloves ave me another 20 miles of dry hands before the waterproofing failed and it was back to icy fingers. By now the snow on the way down had properly stuck. The fields were pure white, vision was difficult through a storm of snow, and the road was reduced to slushy tyre-tracks. Worrying stuff. But again, after a few miles it disappeared and it was just back to the rain.
I stopped at a service station shop in Middlewich and was that cold I couldn’t really move my fingers sufficiently enough to unzip my phone holder and get my money out. Luckily, all the drivers queuing to pay for petrol were really cycle-friendly and understanding…
My fingers seem to have recovered several hours later, and I did notice that I still have the requisite number of toes, so that’s good.
Ride stats : 124 miles in 7hrs 23m at 16.8mph average. 2,612ft ascent, average HR 132bpm and 4,982kcals energy used