Vätternrundan is long.
Long in distance, long in time.
No matter how you train, no matter how many hours and kilometers you do in the saddle, the one thing you won’t know until very close to the date is just how the weather is going to be.
Motala will get more hits on the meteorological sights than any other town in Sweden the week leading up to the ride … and even then you can’t be sure that the weather will be as predicted.
So how do you prepare?
Apart from making sure you have a good sunblock, a good rain jacket, decent shoe-covers that will expel most of the rain, adequate energy bars, glasses, gloves, socks, leg warmers, liniment, oil, arm warmers etc etc. Owning all that stuff just isn’t enough.
The best advice I can give is;
As early as possible in your training season, keep your eyes open for that nice and cold, windy day, that day with a torrential downpour that will leave your skin looking like a raisin when you get home and go out and cycle in it for a few hours.
Forget about the “As long as it’s not raining when I start then I don’t mind” talk.
Wait for it to rain and then get out there. Nothing can prepare you better for bad weather than the bad weather itself. So do it. Once you’ve done it? You’ve set the benchmark for the year.
Your weather “Low-point” if you will. After that ride, nothing can or should keep you away from the bike and the road.
And please promise. When you’re in that rain, sit up, let it hit your face and just laugh.
You may look like a lunatic to all others about you but I promise you, nothing is more liberating than taking on the elements and winning. Liquid sunshine? Bring it on!
Like water off a ducks back. Easy right?
ok, so you’ve arrived at the first depot. The skies have darkened, you’re wondering if you’re on your way to Mordor. It’s calm, but soon that tell-tale wind hits you, there’s a taste of iron in the air, and you know that the “inevitable” (said in the voice or Matrix demon “Hugo Weaving”) – is on its way. RAIN!
First off: You are going to get wet. Either from the rain or from the overprotective layers of (apparently) breathable clothing that has you sweating like a horse from the inside out.
Unless you are radiating the sort of heat only found on a small sun accept that fact and move on.
What can you do?
Top to toe.
Head: Under the helmet, a bike cap with visor will help to funnel the rain away from your eyes.
It won’t keep your head dry.
Arms: If it’s warm enough go short-arm, otherwise arm-warmers. Easy to pull off when the weather clears.
They won’t keep your arms dry.
Legs: For me it’s bare legs. Lashings of liniment and then cover this with lashings of baby-oil to keep the liniment in place.
They won’t keep your legs dry.
Feet: Shoe-covers are a must. They fend off the rain well and even the chill. But you can count on your shoes getting incredibly soiled from all the dirt that somehow manages to find its way down the covers and turn that lovely white padding where the ankle sits snug into a grey/brown soggy cloth and there will come a moment when you feel that first wave of H2O in your socks.
In short, you’re gonna get wet feet aswell.
For me, the less clothing I wear, the less there is to get wet.
Just as 1g of carbohydrate retains 2,7grams of water I’m bloody positive that 1gr of cycle-wear retains 5gr of water and at the end of the ride you will understand that the absolute best water repellant is your own skin. That said, I am not an advocate of naked cycling … Not yet …
That said, I’m off to Mallorca and then Italy for 2 weeks of cycling, hopefully in sunshine of the non-liquified variety.
VR Nr 10. The year is 1999. the weather was good, especially during the night. It was after this years ride I believe that the 6-hour rest rule was implicated due to a nasty accident involving a tired cyclist on his way home and some cyclists heading to the finish line.
For my own part it dawned on me that to finish on 10 VR’s would mean I wouldn’t cycle the ride in the new millenium coming up! Any excuse ‘eh? Now my sights would be set on 15 🙂