When is Waterproof not Waterproof…?

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Not me riding in the rain

You could legitimately argue that waterproof gear is necessary at any time of year in the UK.  However, as we flash through autumn and rapidly approach the winter months it definitely becomes more important.  Cycling technology has moved on rapidly in the last few years meaning that the well known Alfred Wainwright quote is more relevant than ever

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

So lots of cycling kit is marketed to allow you to ride in all sorts of weather, but does that marketing blurb actually stack up?  Well there are many websites out there that can describe the scientific detail behind all of this better than I can but here is a relatively quick overview.


There is a British Standard so whilst many things might be labelled as waterproof you should check whether it is to a British Standard (or comparable International one).  Essentially a hydrostatic test of a fabric must resist over 1500mm of water across a 1 inch diameter tube for 24 hours.  So a jacket with a test value of >1500mm is considered waterproof, but not all waterproofing is created equally.  For example, a jacket that resists 20,000mm will be considerably more waterproof than one at 1500mm.  Eh?  Surely it’s either waterproof or it isn’t?  Well no.  At a molecular level very few things are completely waterproof – the amount of water, pressure at which it is applied and time it is exposed to water all come into play.  So a bigger number is better.  But cycling is an active sport, so it’s all very well being clad in something that stops water passing into it (a bin bag?) but that also means that when you sweat it stops the moisture passing out.  And that can give the impression that you are “cooking” or simply get wet anyway, albeit not from the rain.  So there’s a balance to be struck and most manufacturers have developed technical fabrics that tread the fine line between waterproofing and breathability.  The final consideration with waterproofing is the fact that clothing involves complicated shapes that are joined together,  Seams, zips, cuffs are all traditional weakspots for waterproofing, so the overall capability of an article of clothing can be compromised if these are not considered properly.

Water Resistant

Some garments are not even labelled waterproof.  They are described as water resistant.  These items generally rely on a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating – water forms a bead on it and runs off before it can soak through.  Typically this coating will erode over time and use and washing and need re-applying but it generally works well for showers.  It can, however, be overwhelmed by persistent rain.

So what is the reality of all of this.  Here’s a short, subjective review of all the decent waterproof kit I’ve tried over the years, from the bottom to the top.

Socks, shoes and overshoes

Northwave Fahrenheit Winter Boots

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These use a Gore-Tex membrane to claim to be totally waterproof and breathable.  That may, in fact, be absolutely true but the water runs down your legs, or wicks down if wearing tights or leg-warmers, and your feet can get wet from the inside.  Once they’re wet, they stay wet, as the membrane keeps the water in.  In sustained heavy rain they can keep my feet dry for about an hour. In drizzle I’ve done rides of around four hours with dry feet.

Sealskinz Socks – these are totally waterproof.  I can attest to that fact because when the water somehow gets down into them (and it usually does) it forms pools of cold water around your feet.  When you take them off you can pour the water out.  However, they work well in all but the heaviest rain.

Sealskinz Overshoes – again, these appear to be waterproof but the water gets in around the cuff which is pretty loose.  That, or I have very delicate ankles and narrow calves.


Gloves tend to be problematic.  The shape means there are lots of seams and joins which don’t help with waterproofing.  There is also the problem of the cuff – outside the jacket and water can wick down the sleeve, under the jacket and it’s pretty bulky to get on and off.  And, of course, they are a point of contact with the handlebars which are themselves wet and the introduction of capillary action or osmosis or whatever the correct scientific term is.

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Sealskinz Gloves

When the mercury drops I wear the Sealskinz heavyweight winter gloves because I really feel the cold in my hands.  These are about the best waterproof gloves I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot).  They can last in drizzle for hour after hour.  In very heavy rain you may get an hour out of them, which is generally much longer than other gloves.  The lobster gloves are equally waterproof and toastie warm in winter when worn with under-gloves.

Endura Deluge Gloves

Lighter gloves and the name is more of a hope than a reality.  They don’t keep water out for long and certainly not in a deluge.  Autumn showers gloves rather than winter gloves.

Altura Waterproof Gloves

They just aren’t.  They will resist some drizzle, and an occasional shower but they aren’t waterproof – but they do have the word “waterproof” printed on them so what do I know.

Bibshorts and leg warmers

Sportful Fiandre No-rain leg warmers

These work pretty well with the rain beading off at first.  Can be overwhelmed by heavier downpours and also inadvertently direct the rain down into your boots/shoes.

dhb Aeron rain defence bib shorts

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Very decent, especially when combined with the leg warmers above.  They are good shorts, comfortable with a good chamois and plain black, which I like.  Water will bead but not for a sustained period.

Jerseys and Jackets

Gore Oxygen Jacket

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They say you get what you pay for and this is absolutely the best waterproof item of clothing I own.  It has never let me down.  It fits well, the sleeves come down to cover the cuffs of gloves (and thus stop rain running into them) and it has a longer tail at the back if you’re one of those lunatics that insists on not using mudguards in the winter.  It doesn’t, however, pack down into a size that is easily portable so it’s a put-on-at-the-start-of-your-ride jacket.  Which brings me to…

Sportful Hotpack

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This is a great packable waterproof.  The water beads off it and it will withstand strong showers.  It will pack down into it’s own pocket to then fit into a jersey or jacket pocket.  This is the jacket I carry on my bike/person during most of the year in this country – it’s a just-in-case jacket.

Sportful Fiandre No-rain Winter Jacket

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This is a very warm jacket which I think is ideal for winter in this country.  It’s a racing fit and so far it has held the rain at bay when I’ve needed it too.  The rain beads at first but then appears to soak in a bit but it doesn’t get through.  Did I mention it’s pretty warm too?

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket (Tricolour Version)

Ade's Road Cycling BlogWhat a great jacket.  Another put-on-at-the-start-of-your-ride; it’s windproof and weatherproof.  I’ve worn it in four hours of drizzle/rain and gusty wind and it’s kept me warm and dry.  The fit and cut is everything you expect from Rapha with nice detailing touches.  In comparison to the Fiandre above it’s not quite as snug a fit and not quite as warm but that’s a subjective view.  In the dry it appears to wick sweat away really well.  It is expensive but if you use vouchers and sales (I’ve never bought Rapha full-price ever) it’s a great jacket that will do a job for ages.

Pactimo Storm Jacket (club kit)

This is a strange jacket.  It has short sleeves and a pair of arm warmers.  The body is meant to be water-repellant and it does so to a certain extent.  It certainly isn’t waterproof and though the body is warm enough (roubaix-type lining) the arm warmers don’t really cut it in winter.  So I tend to use it for Spring and Autumn.

Commuting Jackets

Both the Altura NightVision and the Proviz jacket I use in winter are waterproof in the heaviest rain but then my commute doesn’t last very long!  I’d say you’d be dry in either for a commute up to an hour.  Both have hi-viz reflective detailing (the whole Proviz is reflective!) and therefore stand out in the dark and help make you more visible.

Stolen Goat Orkaan Race Tech Jersey

This is a super racy fit mid-sleeve length jersey.  It’s warm and is water-proof although the seams are a weak point.  It’s great for those spring and autumn days when the weather doesn’t know what to do.

Le Col Aquazero Winter Jersey

Great quality, super-warm and water-repellent.  Excellent winter jersey and looks amazing too, which always helps.

Finally, I’ve tried a whole host of cheap alternatives to the above over the years and they generally don’t work.  Technical bike-wear has come on tremendously in the recent past and you do usually get what you pay for.  I have found out to my cost that mostly, if you buy cheap you buy twice.

To sum up – if you do very long rides in the rain, sooner or later your waterproof clothing will fail you as water always finds the weak point – like a seam, a zip or an opening.  How long that takes will be a combination of the conditions and the product.  If you are doing shorter training rides there are a lot of good products out there that will very effectively keep you dry.  My comments are based on my own experience of both types of ride.

If you decide to buy any of this gear you can get cashback by joining here and then clicking through to various online bike shops including Wiggle, Chainreaction, Evans etc.  Ade's Road Cycling BlogIf you buy a lot of gear online (or anything really), the cash back really is worth it. 

Red Rose 200k Audax – Rain Stopped Play!

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Not me riding in the rain

I got a text from Anthony last night.  It said that there was a yellow rain warning and severe gales expected today, and asked if we were in fact going to attempt this ride.  After a literate and rousing motivational reply, Anthony turned up this morning and we headed over to the start at Halifax.  It was windy but dry.  A spot of toast and suddenly we were the only ones left – the others had gone.  Within the first mile we went the wrong way and after a bit of messing about we retraced and got back on route.  Anthony rode with old friend Peter Bond for a while before we got lost a second time after a closed road took us off the route.  By now we were wet and it was clear my motivational text had worn off.  The rain got worse and the wind kicked up, sweeping me several yards across the road at one point before I even knew what had happened.  It sounded like a jet engine in the trees!

At the first café stop 40 miles in I got a text from Liz asking me to stop and come home because the weather was frightening.  At that point we were soaked through, freezing cold and wary of the wind.  We decided to bail.

After wringing my socks out in the toilets, and eating soup and eggs on toast, we calculated the quickest route back and set off.  I have the say that the last 10 miles were possibly the worst I’ve experienced on a bike.  Absolutely drenched from head to foot, I couldn’t feel either my feet or my fingers.  Braking and changing gear was proving more and more challenging.  Riding down the valley from Burnley to Todmorden to Halifax into a headwind was hard enough, but with alarming frequency the wind would swirl sideways blowing me either into the kerb or into the centre of the road.  Helpfully, motorists were giving us a wider berth (#sarcasm) so it wasn’t at all scary (#moresarcasm).

At the end we’d done 71 miles and there were still a dozen audaxers aiming to finish – I am in awe of their fortitude.

Ride stats : 71.45 miles in 5hrs 14m @ 13.6mph. 4983ft climbing, average HR 122bpm, 3152kcals used

Strava ride here

Macc Monster 2011

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Remember - the camera adds 10lbs...

On Saturday I was having a bouncing competition with my youngest daughter (don’t ask – she’s a bit childish like that) when I had to stop because of a pain in my lower back.  I thought nothing more of it and it went away.  Until the first real climb of the Macc Monster when it started aching quite badly, and didn’t really stop for the rest of the ride.  Last year I rode the Macc Monster in bright October sunlight, riding in shorts and short sleeves and enjoying a really nice day round the hills of the Macclesfield Forest and edge of the Peaks.  This year it was windy and wet, but still as enjoyable, with the Kidscan charity organising another super event.

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7,087ft climbing

I mistakenly got up an hour earlier than I needed to having misread the registration time so I was there nice and early, with the weather damp but not too bad.  This is a well-organised sportive so we were off pretty much bang on time in a 200 strong peloton heading out from the HQ.  The field rapidly thinned out as we immediately started hitting the hills and I made my way through the field settling (and staying) in the first 30 or so riders.  We seemed to battle a headwind for most of the ride which somehow seems unfair considering it’s two loops but certainly as we hit the peaks the wind was blowing hard.

Not far from, and at the halfway feed station, I started chatting to a chap who introduced himself as Adam who had just joined North Cheshire Clarion.  He looks like the racing snake variety of cyclist and is apparently into time-trials so watch out Giles next year!  Adam, if you are reading this, welcome to the club.

The feed station had the usual basic, but very welcome, food such as banana, flapjack, malt loaf and water/energy drinks and I was soon on my way again.

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Photo does not convey how wet and windy it was

The last 2 climbs were pretty tough.  The headwind was now brutal and the rain was being driven into our faces and was actually painful, especially up to the Cat and Fiddle.  But this is a great route and soon we were sweeping down descents towards the finish, and a complimentary steak sandwich and cup of coffee.

I keep recommending these rides – this one and the Peak 100.  They are great value, with well signed and interesting routes, good organisation and value for money.  And any proceeds go to the charity.  Give them a go next year – I will see you there.

By the way, if you like the photos they were taken by Rick Robson at CycleSportPhotos – I think they’re good despite the subject model – especially given the weather conditions.

Ride stats : 64 miles in 4hrs 40m @ 13.7mph average.  7087ft climbing, average HR 150bpm and 4099kcals used.


North Lancs Cycleway and Bowland Forest Populaire Audax

It was wet today... (Copyright Greenprophet.com)

Anthony, Martin and I drove up to Caton in Lancashire today to ride this Populaire audax.  At 8-30am this morning you wouldn’t have thought the weather would be bad, as the sky was clear and the sun was shining.  However, the weather forecast was suggesting that a blanket of rain was sweeping northwards and would envelop us around about 1pm.  For once, and unfortunately, the forecasters were right and the heavens opened at around 12-30pm.


The ride took us in a big loop around the Forest of Bowland on both cycleway and quiet country roads.

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The route ran clockwise, wind South to North

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3393ft of climbing

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Even in the nice sunshine there was a wind blowing northwards so the first section of the ride, of course, took us into the headwind.  Plenty of hills but not an excessive amount of climbing.  The big hill in the middle was made much worse by it being directly into a headwind, which whistled down the exposed moorland.  As usual we rode along having a laugh, especially when it turned out I’d plotted the route incorrectly, and Anthony confused himself by wrongly voting for himself to be responsible for remembering the control points.  The upshot of having an incorrect route, and poor instructions, was that we passed many riders only to find ourselves behind them at a later stage.

Foodwise we managed cake in the morning, warm food in the middle and a bacon butty at the end.  The Riverside in Slaidburn was full of Harley Davidson bikers.  We considered having a “rumble” but it was starting to rain that fine rain so we thought we’d go to Puddleduck’s in Dunsop Bridge instead.

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I have been asked to point out that this is not the only thing Anthony is good at

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Anthony tells Martin eating scones is not the only thing he is good at...

We had a brilliant tailwind on the final leg back to the HQ which saw us flying up a hill at 22mph at one point, but by then we were all very wet and very cold – in June – ridiculous.

Ride stats : 68 miles in 4hrs 57m at 13.8mph average.  3393ft of climbing and 3451kcals energy used

Tips for Riding in the Rain

Nice weather for ducks...

Well the rain didn’t let up at all today.  But fair weather ne’er a fair maiden found (or something like that) so I met up with Andy W and we ventured out into the monsoon.  We did a relatively fast 52 miles at around 15.7mph around the lanes of Cheshire including a very pleasant cafe stop, where I had coffee and a cream/jam scone, and tried to get warm.  Apologies to the cafe owners for the large puddles we left behind!

It was a pretty flat route and one of the advantages of being out today was that not many other people were stupid enough to be so.  The roads were pretty clear really.

Anyway, it got me thinking about riding in the rain – here’s some tips

  1. Waterproof doesn’t mean waterproof.  There are degrees of waterproofing – and the unit of measure is Hydrostatic Head, which relates to pressure exerted by a column of water.  In the UK a HH of 1000mm is the minimum value to be considered waterproof.  Falling rain exerts an HH of about 1000mm so you’d think that you will be okay if your jacket is rated at that level.  But then factor in the wind and the fact that you are zipping along on a bike and roadspray etc and you should be looking at HH values above 5000mm.
  2. A high level of waterproofing is likely to mean breathability issues.  So you have a choice – get wet from the outside or get wet from the inside.  Either way you’re getting wet!
  3. Waterproof socks and gloves are great until they fail – and they will fail if you are riding in rain for hours.  At which point the waterproofing keeps the water in!  Lovely.
  4. Watch the road more than usual.  A puddle can often mean a pothole. And bigger pools of water not only get you wet but often mean you’ll either pull into the middle of the road to avoid them or hit them hard enough to throw you off balance.  Today there were numerous floods on the back-lanes and it was fun (yes fun!) riding around and through them and trying not to get soaked!  Fat chance.
  5. Take corners carefully – my tyres certainly do not perform as well in the wet – I suspect they’re not unique.
  6. Brake earlier – they don’t work great in the rain
  7. Keep your mouth closed.  Or you’ll get a mouthful!  And rain hurts your face at 30mph downhill too.
  8. Keep an eye on your brake-blocks.  The wet and the natural crap you get on roads can create a rough paste which gets between your rims and blocks and acts like sandpaper.
  9. Eat cake.  Yes I know that’s got nothing to do with the rain but it’ll make you feel better.
  10. Don’t stay out too long.  Once you are soaked, it gets harder and harder to stay warm.

Anyway, I’m glad I went out.  It was a good to meet up with Andy again and given the weather it was a decent pace.  I’m just about dry now too!

High Intensity Weekend

I guess it’s all relative.  To many faster, fitter, younger riders it probably won’t seem like much, but this weekend has been pretty high intensity for me.  And that’s on top of a week where I’ve probably overcooked things.  Last Saturday I tackled the Hopey New Year audax which was very tough in itself.  I took Sunday off and then played football on Monday – on a side with a man down.  Tuesday I took off and then did my normal commute (12.5 miles each way) on Wednesday.  Thursday it was football (again a man down) and Friday my commute.  Geordie Graeme from North Cheshire Clarion had mentioned a Saturday afternoon ride so myself and Paul turned up.  I thought it would be a good warm up for Sunday’s new format “training” club run, which I’d volunteered to lead.  As it was Paul and Graeme drove a pretty fast pace into the wind, and as we didn’t stop, I got my nutrition horribly wrong and was bonking badly with 4 or 5 miles to go, slowing the guys considerably.

Saturday route - NO CAFE STOP!!

707ft ascent

Saturday evening was all about trying to recover.  My “warmup” had really hit my legs so I was into an ice-bath when I got home and then on with the compression tights, much to the amusement of the family.

There has been some discussion about the NCC Sunday club runs recently.  They are billed as social and open to anyone, fitting nicely with the ethos of the club itself.  The trouble is, fitness-wise, I’ve felt myself going backwards as they don’t stretch me at all.  Last summer and autumn it was okay because there was always an audax or a sportive that helped keep the levels up.  But after November, and coupled with the white-off that was December, I’ve gone backwards at a rate of knots.  So we now have sister rides to the social rides – currently known as training rides.  Today was the first and I was leading.  We set off 15 minutes ahead of the social ride, on the same route, such that anybody struggling can be swept up by the social ride.

Sunday route - cake at Lavender Farm

616ft ascent

Including me there were 6 riders up for the inaugural ride, and off we went.  If anything the weather was worse and the wind slightly stronger, blowing West to East – so into our faces from the off.

The ride went very well indeed, with people taking turns on the front and keeping up a decent pace.  As we arrived at the cafe stop after 30 miles we were averaging 17.6mph.  Some coffee & walnut cake helped refill the tank and we set off back.  By now we were turning back into the wind and the heavens opened with cold, driving rain directly into our faces.  As opposed to Saturday where I bonked, today I got within a couple of miles of the end and my legs had decided enough was enough, and I gradually slipped off the back .  Anthony sportingly dropped back and pulled me back on but my legs were shot at the end.

Saturday HR profile - average 156bpm

Sunday HR profile - 162bpm average

HR Legend

The two HR profiles show the level of intensity I was working at on both days.  To put it all into context, in the 603 rides where I’ve collected data, these were 3rd and 8th highest average heart-rate, which I think is either a measure of how my fitness has tailed off, or it shows that whilst I’m pretty good at long distance and endurance, I’m not so good at high intensity.  Put it this way, I feel a long way off the 18.6mph average that Anthony and I did on the Manchester 100.  It’s probably a mixture of both if I think about it.  I’m just not used to these higher intensity rides and therefore struggle when we get towards the end of them.

And that is what the training rides are all about.  Hopefully these will develop my fitness and help increase my ability to work at a higher intensity for longer.  That said, I also think I need to realise that I’m not as young as I used to be, and not get frustrated when I can’t do everything I want to do, at the intensity that I want to do it.

My legs are aching now, and my right knee is very, very sore.  I think I’ll listen to my body now and have a couple of days off.  Hopefully everyone else enjoyed the training ride and it will be the first of many.

Ride Stats : Saturday 43.6 miles in 2hrs 38m @ 16.5mph, 2512kcals used

Ride Stats : Sunday 42.8 miles in 2hrs 30m @ 17mph, 2517kcals used


Season of Mists Audax

A wet and wild Sunday morning early start saw nine North Cheshire Clarion stalwarts gather at the HQ in Hebden Bridge for the Season of Mists audax.  Wet weather gear was the order of the day but unfortunately none of us had the right equipment for the level of rain that was falling!

Gaz forgot his coat and Martin forgot his shoes so one got the feeling that it was going to be one of those days.  We managed to be on time for the start for a change so we set off half a mile before the first climb in Hebden Bridge.  What a climb it was too!  Nearly a mile long and with a gradient peaking at 16.7% it was a fierce climb for cold and already wet legs.  Added to that the last few hundred yards were on wet cobbles!  Horrible!

A mile further on and “lucky” Gaz got a puncture. Jim wasn’t feeling well so decided to go back to the car – not before Martin borrowed his shoes and Gaz had his spare inner tube!  At this point we’d been going half an hour and had done 2.25 miles.  And were all soaking wet.

The roads were very wet – almost like streams at some points.  It made going downhill and picking lines very tricky and placed a lot of strain on brakes and brake blocks – which now need changing on my bike.  Even the Garmin started playing up in the rain, refusing to signal turns.  We missed one turn which meant an extra climb back up the hill – that was very popular.

Around 28 miles in we had the first cafe stop.  The poor cafe owner was trying to serve and mop up the puddles of water at the same time, but I still managed a nice hot apple pie and custard and a cup of coffee.

I managed to tick off a hill from the 100 Greatest Climbs book – the Nick of Pendle – which was by no means the worst of the day.  Here’s the profiles for the days climbing

6981ft of climbing!!!!

Some nasty sharp hills

There is a spike in there at 32% gradient which I’m not sure whether it’s a Garmin/GPS issue or was actually one of the hills.  There are a dozen or so 10%+ hills on there though and at the end of 63 miles it was very, very tough on the legs.

The second stop included some homemade cake which was simply brilliant and at the end, as per usual on these events, the catering was absolutely superb.

The sun finally came out at the end but it was still a great effort by a very damp Clarion team – probably harder than Tour of Britain last week – but special mention to Giles who has gone from trailing in my wake on the hills to leaving me for dead.  I’m told it’s structured training rather than Spanish steak but either way it was an impressive display today.

Ride stats – 63.48 miles in 5hrs 13mins ride time – 12.1mph average.  6981ft of climbing and 4098 kcals used.

NCC Sunday Club Run – a Tale of 2 Halves

Cutting to the chase – today’s club run round Cheshire saw us start the ride in driving rain, which then proceeded to drive even harder, and end the ride in clear blue skies and sunshine.  I’m guessing that’s the type of weather differential you can only get in this country.

I started the ride in Endura waterproof overshoes, Sealskinz waterproof socks, Madison waterproof gloves and my Club EnduraPro Windtex (waterproof) jacket.  The rain was driving down, which coupled with the spray from the dozen or so riders around me meant that precisely NOTHING remained dry!  We looped round Comberbach, Great Budworth, Pickmere and Knutsford before heading north through Mobberley and Dunham before the inevitable sprint to the Lavender Cafe for a well earned coffee and slice of cake.  At that point we looked like a bunch of drowned rats, with water dripping off us as we trudged in.

Pulling damp and soggy clothes back on we ventured back out to find that the rain had stopped only to be replaced with a vicious wind – at times in our face, at times across us.  This called for tightly bunched-up group riding which we did quite well, though I say so myself.  The Sun came out and the with the aid of the wind was drying us quite nicely as we reached the end of the route.

Had to wash my bike for the second time in two days when I got home due to the rain.  Is this the end of summer already?

Ride stats: 43 miles in 2hr 44m at 15.7mph average, 740ft of climbing and 1581kcals used

No 72 – The Rake

Climb number 72 in Simon Warren’s excellent book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, is The Rake in Ramsbottom.  It’s given an 8/10 rating in the book.  I plotted a ride that diverted from my usual Grane Road loop to take in this hill and chalk up my seventh climb from the book.

The weather was overcast when I set off, and chilly too considering it’s bloody August!  By the time I returned the heavens had opened and I was drenched!  The ride to the Rake was uneventful apart from the fact that my Garmin was playing up – claiming it had no saved routes even though I could see them when it was hooked up to the Mac.  More on some Garmin hints and tips in a later post.  I started up the climb and the road quickly becomes around 15% gradient for a while and then swings 90 degrees left and flattens out.  At this point I was thinking “is that it?”  Then the road turned right into a section that looked like the ramp from Mow Cop!  This section is marked as 25% on the sign at the start, and even has a handrail on the wall for pedestrians!  Although my heart-rate was maximum at this point I felt relatively comfortable, especially when the road flattened to a “mere” 20% gradient.  It was still very tricky – the road surface is very poor so you have to concentrate on line rather than just slogging upwards!  The hill is only about three-quarters of a mile and was over fairly quickly.  I’m not sure I’d rate it an 8/10.

The rest of the ride took me (very, very soggily) back onto my normal Grane Road loop.  I tried to really attack the remaining hills to get some training in, hitting max heart-rate a few more times.  Interestingly, GPSIES reports this ride as having a ClimbByBike index of 55.43 which is seemingly quite benign (by way of contrast – the Tan Hill Challenge had a ClimbByBike index of 210.04).  This is a method for rating climbs – click the links for more information.

Total Ascent - 1873ft

Overall, a very good ride, if a little damp.  Enjoyed the Rake – not sure what hill to tackle next!

Ride stats : 32 miles, 1hr 59m, average speed 16.1mph, 1873ft ascent, 1598kcals

#lejog Training – Wet, Windy and Yet More Hills

Woke up to a cold and damp morning with my legs feeling particularly heavy from yesterday’s hill-fest in Lancashire.  I guess this is what the actual journey is going to feel like at times (only worse) although I’m hoping that excitement and adrenaline will play their part.  Had to be back early today so decided on a shorter route but still with some “lumps” to get over.  The route heads north towards Blackburn over the Grane Road and then turns back on itself and down to Bury and home.  It’s a favourite of mine.

It was made a bit harder by the rain and the headwind as I headed north.  The north bit is the uphill bit – so just what I needed was an added headwind.  One of the reasons that Land’s End to John o’ Groats is considered easier than the other way round is that generally the prevailing wind is south-westerly giving you a push.  However, having followed the weather closely for the last few months there seems to be an awful lot of northerly winds which will be a nightmare if it turns out like that at the end of June!

Much of making it over hills is in the mind.  Quite often your body has plenty in reserve but your mind tells you to stop.  I decided today I’d do some “mental training” by staying on the big ring up all the hills.  The temptation would be there to make life easier and go to the granny ring but this would be good for mind over matter, not to mention helping build up the power in my legs.

1749ft of climbing

I have to say it was a struggle, what with the headwind and the rain, but I did it.  And I beat my best time on this route.  In May last year I did this route in 2 hours and 39 minutes, averaging 12.1mph.  In February this year, as my only training ride of the week, I did it in 2 hours and 14 minutes, averaging 14.4mph.  Today I did it in 2 hours and 8 minutes, averaging 15mph which I am very pleased with, especially after yesterday and the conditions.  Interestingly, in February I used 2109kcals of energy and had an average heart-rate of 148bpm.  Today I used 1761kcals with an average heart-rate of  135bpm.  I think these are good indicators of how far I’ve come.  My next target will be to beat 2 hours on this route!