Two days running, I recently rode into work in pouring rain. The illustration above, however, is not my preferred method of keeping dry on the bike. And I’m not recommending it either. It was taken by someone in Japan, not by me. But, I have borrowed it to illustrate, the sensation of slight lunacy and devil may care that descends upon me whenever the rain falls hard and fast upon me and my bike. My usual careful, considered and calm attitude to riding on the road is threatened by strange urges to do something a bit daft. I often feel a temptation to laugh out loud, or put my feet on the handlebars and cry wheeeee! on a descent. I have actually done the former several times in torrential downpours, once hurtling down a hill on Skye, with rain drenching me both from above, and from below as the force and volume of water hitting the ground was so great, and visibility so poor, I felt I was riding in a massive rain cloud, rather than under it. My daughter and I once rode in a summer thunderstorm from Peckham to the Barbican, singing as many songs about rain as we could. The few pedestrians that had dared put their heads out of doors in the storm, seemed a little bemused. I thought I heard one shout, “Nutters!” as we passed.
I felt a little of that slight madness return one morning recently, before dawn, as I rode along silver streets glistening in the rain, sparkling with the reflections of shop and street lights. Rain, especially at night, or just before sunrise, transforms city streets, washes away the dull and grey, the dust and the dirt, lends everything a dash of magic and glitter. Just for a while. I really wanted to ride up, over one of the bridges, to watch the sparkling city, each light magnified in every raindrop, glide by like a dream, reflections gleaming in the river, only surface deep, just skimming the deep dark mystery below.
So, that’s what I did. A glorious swoop up and over London Bridge, then through the city, still quiet enough for me to hear my own thoughts clearly, the rain glinting on glass and steel, dripping from brick and stone. Back across Tower Bridge, and down the Old Kent Rd, to work. Where I showered, changed, towel dried my hair and hung my wet outer clothes on radiators before walking past my mildly bemused colleagues, humming a happy little tune to myself.