Cycling in January: Making a splash

With classic timing, my Christmas fitness campaign coincided with the worst storms of the past 20 years.

Of course, the recent extreme weather affected everybody who tried riding during the festive break, and many areas were much worse off than my corner of Surrey. That said, we have suffered our fair share of submerged tarmac, with a combination of floods and fallen trees closing half a dozen roads.

‘Closed’ of course is a fairly loose term for cyclists. Unlike our fellow four-wheeled travellers, we are able to climb over all manner of fallen obstacles, albeit with varying levels of success. Some trees were trickier than others, with spindly branches all too easily prone to tangling with spokes, and cleats proving particularly slippery on wet bark.

Another newfound skill is estimating water depth. It’s easy if there’s a reference, a broken-down vehicle, traffic cone, or road sign, but a stretch of flooded road with nothing protruding is a test of bravery or perhaps stupidity. Faced with a five-mile detour, I have been opting for the dive-in-and-hope-for-the-best approach.

More by luck than judgement, things have gone well. I reached bottom bracket height on several occasions but managed to keep my feet out of the water. The main problem with feet-up freewheeling is losing momentum – water tends to kill your speed quite quickly!

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

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