Is your Camelbak half empty, or half full? Rain being the elephant in the room.

Quick look on the web last night to see where people are going for a spin today; oh dear, lots of people crying off due to rain. Come on! This is the year of rain, and it isn't going to let up anytime soon. If you're going to let the rain put you off a ride, well you're not going to get much done for the rest of this year. I dislike rain as much as the next man, but I quite like cycling. And not having been on the bike for a few week's due to work, there was no way a bit of rain was going to stop me. Darn it, I'm British! Stiff upper lip and all that.

Anyway to be fair to the cry off's the rain was pretty intense when I set off this morning and I was wet within half a mile, my waterproofs failing to live up to their gore-tex description. My glasses also fogged up, meaning for the entire three hours I could only see a few metres in front. No worries really, as my bike still has the Maxxis Aspen tyres fitted so I wasn't about to go steaming off at full speed into slippy mud. But the rain has been so much of late that lack of grip wasn't actually an issue - for the main I was riding in flowing water on bed rock. Indeed I had quite a bit of grip provided I stopped within the streams and all was well. Even in deeper mud the Aspen can find grip [I put it down to my skill....] and at no point were the tyres an issue. Would be different on a day where speeds were higher and the ground proper mud - they get a bit frightening then. I only stalled once, but that was when my front tyre dropped into a puddle so deep half the front forks entered the water as well. That was a comedy over the bars moment. But there was no guessing as to where the deep parts of puddles were. Sure you could normally take an educated guess that tyre ruts would be near to the parallel edges, but today there were no real edge details to reference. Nor could one use memory detail to try and figure out where old puddles were, hence where deep bits were also. How so? Normally we have definite muddy bits, and over the golf course the puddles are always in the same spot. Today the rutted singletrack next to the golf course was one long continuous puddle for 200m; you tell me where the deep parts are when that happens!

Water. Have to mention the elephant in the room again as it was the sole defining feature of the ride. Dear Reader, I know it's 105 degrees fahrenheit where you are [70% of my reader's are American] but here in the UK it's not. I'm guessing that overnight we've had almost a month's worth of average rainfall here in Surrey, and there was one hell of a big storm just after midnight. In other words, A LOT! Puddles had formed into small ponds - it was common to ride through 10cm depths of standing water for perhaps 50m, even on top of hills. On the ups it was a question of just riding into the flow. Some of the downs were interesting as I got literally carried along with the speeding flow. On one, and I kid you not, my feet were getting wet from being in the water on each downward stroke. As the trail levelled off I realised that I was cycling through water axle deep for a good 150m. And I don't mean tyre depth and a bit splashy; I really do mean axle deep. It was bizarre. A linear pond. And the noise. I lived in Snowdonia for five years and am used to the sound of mountain streams. In Surrey 8th July that was the predominant sound. Never seen or heard that in 21 years.

Prior to the ride I'd lubricated my chain with dry wax lube from Squirt - "my Camelbak is always half full" kind of guy that I am! Water meant a quick application of C3 wet over the Squirt - C3 / Squirt ad-mix if you want. It worked really well and I had no shifting issues all ride. My chain was graunchy with grit post ride, but it never gave me any issues with shifting or chain suck. It's an expensive way to lube a chain though.

Saw quite a few cyclists about - one of whom actually laughed at my tyre choice. Fair point, but this wet all tyres are the same, even shitty Panaracer Pro's. Actually I take that back as they are horrid tyres all of the time. Funny, but all of the cyclists I saw were homeward bound whilst I was the only one on an outward leg. Post 11am I saw nobody else. Rain is just what it is.

I also decided that day-time running lights may have been appropriate for my ride. As I'd left I thought of putting some lights on, but heck, it was only 9am so why bother, it'll brighten up? But at about 11:30 coming back over Headley and heading over towards Reigate hill, in the rhododendrons, things got very dark indeed in an "can you hear banjos?" kind of way once the rain started coming down heavily. Lights would have been nice. The same thought flashed through my tiny brain as the same heavy squal hit me on the road home - I felt very exposed on the road without a rear light flashing away. It was like dusk it was that dark. Not nice.

At least my bike didn't need cleaning at the end - just a quick hose down and all is well. My tyres look new. And yes, hose pipe ban or not I used a hose pipe. Screw the water companies; if they can't make a fist of catching all this rain they don't deserve to be in business.

Not a good ride, but not a bad one either. Indeed the smells of the countryside in the warm wet were wonderfully fresh and more than made up for the weather. And the view over Gatton amidst the last storm was just fantastic; low cloud, mist, rain, cows huddled under the trees - honest, a real Constable moment if any. One of those views in time that a professional photographer could make a good living from. Remove the social problems, traffic, excessive house prices and commuting issues and this is a wonderful place to live.

Spoilt my happy frame of mind by watching the Grand Prix live in entirity. Wasn't it boring? The overtakes were easy and it was all about tyre management again. I struggled to stay awake, as probably did Hamilton. Wife was also in a grump with me - boy had woken us up at five something am and it was clearly my fault. She put her headphones on when I got back, and took them off at 10pm. Nice. Things you have to put up with when you are married. She's been reading that Fifty shades of grey book, and clearly I don't live up to whatever S&M or dominatrix fantasies go on there, but no way am I having surgery to remove 5" so that she can tell everyone I've a footlong schlong! No way.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Happy riding folks! Remember, it's only water - you're wet inside anyway, so it won't kill you.