Soggy Sundays, must be British Summertime

The last two Sundays of August have one thing in common – they have been complete soakers and I’ve been saturated with rain water on both occasions. Also annoyingly both the Saturdays had been perfect summers days filled with warmth and sunshine.

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I know you can only reach saturation point once and skin is waterproof and it has generally been warm rain but two Sundays in a row I have got home and stripped off in front of the washing machine and dogs then streaked up stairs for a warm shower.

In weather terms 2015 was an average June, July one of the hottest on records then August one of the wettest on record – thats according to BBC Countryfile weather, so must be true.

Enough about the weather because  the reason behind the soakings were two fantastic local events. First was the Cotswold Classic which is a middle distance triathlon held at my local swimming lake, put on by 113events.com The second was the Severn Bridge Sportive which this year had the unique experience of us riding on the actual motorway over the bridge as closed to motor traffic, starting from Castle Combe race circuit, the event organised by Andy Cook cycling.

As well as wet weather both events were excellently organised with the athletes, riders, supporters, families, marshals all looked after and their needs and exceptions thought of and exceeded.

Swimmer can get a sprint on
Swimmer can get a sprint on !

Cotswold Classic relay team – middle distance triathlon, Lake 32, 23rd August.

I was the swimmer in the relay team and yet again like Outlaw I got the best part of the day and ironically the driest. Even though August was wet the lake levels were low but temperatures were warm. The race consists of one lap swim, two laps bike and three run laps. The long swim lap took us to the far corners of the lake and in & out the middle. Which meant we swam through some weeds in the shallow corners then all I could see was a  cloud and zero visability so looking up to sight I saw half a dozen swimmers walking across a shale sandbank, hence the sandstorm. I too stood and waded ankle deep for about ten meters before commencing swimming again. One more shallow section where I grounded but managed to pull myself along the bottom before being hauled out at the exit ramp. Not bad with 34 minutes on  the clock and 2080meters as I swam along a line of boats instead of locking onto the next buoy in a direct line.

Our cyclist Jo managed to get out and back just in the dry, which left Deb our runner to get the full super soaker treatment. Mind you Jo & I also got a soaking as we stood and spectated, cheered Deb and other runners along the puddle riddled run course.

Just after 5 hours I spotted my yellow pirate cap that Deb had grabbed off me on the first lap  and the three of us held hands and splashed our way down the red finishers carpet.

Splashing our way to the finish
Splashing our way to the finish

Severn Bridge Sportive, from Castle Combe, 66 miles 30th August

I was due to ride the bridge last year but a couple of cracked ribs and a split intercostal muscle put a stop to that. There was a 100 mile or 66 mile options which you could decide on the day. Now if the ride had been on the Saturday I would have been tempted with the 100 miler but on Sunday Route 66 seemed much more appealing in the wet.

Quick registration and I was number 99 although it wasn’t the weather for a flake and ice cream. Then half an hour faffing trying to decide what to wear – long sleeve jacket, gilet, arm warmers, Buff, overshoes ???  and of course which weather forecast to believe.

I met up with Alison & Ewen who I’d agreed to ride with, I’d told my Cotswold Team mates I was after a social, scenic ride and not head down, arse up chasing tyres which were throwing up roaster tail spray.

The ride started and finished on the Castle Combe Race circuit then was a mixture of country lanes, quite roads and then the unique opportunity to ride on the actual M48 motorway carriage across the old Severn bridge which was closed to traffic. It was great seeing the two Severn bridges come into view from different angles and riding the bridge with the river Severn in a misty haze below us.

We shared the bridge with the half marathon runners and during our stop for our groups third chain mechanical fix of the ride I got the see the top three runners finish just off the bridge.

Sharing the bridge with the runners
Sharing the bridge with the runners

It was really cool to see BIKES ONLY above the toll booths and hear the alarms beep as we rode though – no we didn’t have to pay a toll 🙂 Going west it was a gentle incline and unlike in May when I rode on the cycle path on the side for the charity ride there was little wind but a mist across the Severn with the new bridge just in view.

BIKES ONLY today
BIKES ONLY today

The feed station was a banquet pilled high with homemade ham & cheese rolls, flajack, fruit loaf, Jaffa cakes and coffee. Ewen nearly ate his own body weight in Jaffas while Alison was attracted to the fruit loaf, I was hovering or was that Hoovering the savoury end of the table.

Fab three ride the Severn Bridge
Fab three ride the Severn Bridge, splash of colour on a grey day

We then got to ride back across the bridge which seemed to have a steeper incline to the hump point in the middle. It was the driest part of the ride when we were crossing the bridge as the rain briefly eased.

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Alison & I getting over the hump
Alison & I heading back home

Ewen was starting to get too cold for comfort as he chose a gilet while Alison and I had long sleeved jackets, for once my wardrobe choice was correct for the conditions. I told him to blast the last 5 miles home to warm up and get some pasta and coffee and I would escort Alison back. Maybe the mechanical stops took their toll and he got the chills when we stopped.

We all met  up at the finish very soggy, but smiling and happy to complete the route 66 ride.

So our soggy summer is nearly over, next up for me an easier month with a holiday and then a fun sea swim olympic triathlon to see if I can crack this motion sickness in the ocean. Then I will start looking towards 2016 long distance triathlon goals kicking off with a training camp in Mallorca in October with my coach Neil and Performance Edge. Now there better be sunshine there ?!

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