The weather was filthy today but the incentive to get out and continue the 30 Day Challenge was that I had a training partner for the morning. My usual rule is: Rain, No Ride. (or Rain, No Round when it comes to golf).

That may sound like soft Home Counties nonsense to many of you and certainly I accept that if you want to be any good, you sometimes have to get out and ride regardless of the conditions. And I know that essentially we all owe our lives to the water that falls from the skies and that without it we?d eventually get very thirsty indeed. Heck, I?d even resort to drinking Coke Zero if it got really arid.

Suddenly I am obsessed with weather forecasts again. Already I have a beef with the BBC?s online report. On Sunday the five-day forecast led me to believe we were in for a fine week. It rained on Monday and when I checked again, the five-day forecast had changed to gloomy dark clouds and persistent rain across the board. How does that work then? Isn?t it time for these sky-gazers to admit that what they really do is peek out of the window at the Met Office to see what the weather?s doing at this moment and make a vague guess on whether it looks like raining or shining any time soon?

The TV weather forecast is usually just a succession of noises made by some goon standing on the roof of Television Centre in a North Face jacket, but I am now actually paying attention. Like a gazelle that has a sense there?s a lion in the vicinity, my ears prick up if I hear ??.with showers coming in from the west?? or ??wet start to Friday, but clearing up later.?

Anyway, my friend Mike, who owns a cycling holiday company, and I set off into the gloom for what was, cycling-wise, a fairly unremarkable ride. We talked, rolled along, got out of breath on the numerous short, steep hills, then stopped at a café for a cup of tea.

I am a bald man. It?s okay, I came to terms with it a long time ago, but sometimes there are moments that I am reminded of my baldness, and today was such a day.

We must have looked a bit of a sight, sliding in our cycling shoes over the slick wooden floor, carrying our front wheels. Now, it?s no indictment on the honesty of the people of Hemel Hempstead but we felt the removal of the front wheels would be an anti-theft measure, though any light-fingered toe-rag would probably have got away from two wallies running in cycling shoes.

At the counter I ordered and took off my helmet. The lady visibly recoiled as if she was saying to herself: ?My word, look at these two characters? woah, and get this one. He?s bald too!?

To be honest, bald cyclists are not terribly well served by role models. Marco Pantani looked like a little old man until he took the decision to shave those ridiculous tufts at the side. Bjarne Riis had a monk cut in the mid-90s before going for the all-over number one. Michael Rasmussen. Levi Leipheimer. Do I really need to go on?

But like I said, I am fine with the baldness, just as I am fine with Lycra but there?s one thing that?s guaranteed to make us cyclists look like rejects of the human race.

It?s one of the things that puts me off club-runs ? two dozen berks click-clacking all over the floor of a garden centre?s cafeteria. ?Oh, I forgot the sugar? click-clack-click-clack-click-clack (30 ungainly paces when 10 would do it in normal footwear). Pick up sugar. Click-clack-click-clack back to table.

It gives the impression of a ballet choreographed by a blind man performed by people who look as if they are trying to hold a 50 pence piece between their buttocks.

Let?s start a campaign: Cyclists! Remove Your Shoes At Café Stops. Okay, so the slogan needs some work but I?ve already commissioned the wristbands.


Distance covered: 40km (24.8 miles)

Time: approx 2hrs

Café stop: The Coffee Pot, old town Hemel Hempstead

Rating: 8/10 ? good strong builder?s tea and a very nice bacon roll

TOMORROW: A short but intensive interval session followed by a train journey to Manchester for the World Cup

DID you brave the rain today? Or can you really mount a convincing defence of turbo trainers? Tell us how your training?s going on the fitness section of our forum.