There is no doubt that cyclo-touring on warm, sunny days is the ultimate way to see a country and to enjoy the sights on offer. But what happens on those days when the weather is less kind, when cold and wet are the order of the day?
The solution, you would imagine, is easy. You still have to ride to reach your destination, but when you stop for rests along the way, you simply find somewhere out of the weather to have a break.
In Australia, awnings or coverings along walkways near shops are commonplace. So common that we take them for granted. Parks have rotundas and shelters over benches, and bus stops frequently have at least a one wall and a roof of some description.
I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it is simply that the country gets quite hot in most places during the summer and people seek out the shade? Whatever the reason, it is generally possible to find shelter somewhere nearby when the weather is inclement or there is a sudden shower of rain.
When riding locally at home, the sensible thing is to simply avoid riding in potentially wet weather (if at all possible). Having said that, I know of people who relish the challenge of riding every day irrespective of the weather and sometimes get very wet when caught in a sudden downpour! They are a tougher breed than me!
However, if you are cyclo-touring and have accommodation booked or are working to a tight schedule for some other reason, you may find yourself having to pull on the wet weather gear and bravely tackle the drizzle or worse – the persistent rain.
Riding in the wet is not all that bad once the body has warmed up and settled into a routine. It can even be fun as it was when we were riding in serious rain for 2 hours near a loch in Scotland. The creeks filled up and small waterfalls abounded all along the roadway – it was an unforgettable experience; something that would have been totally missed in a motor vehicle or when cycling in the dry.
There comes a time, though, when it is necessary to stop for a break. Sensible souls then look around for a shelter of some sort. Sitting in the rain drinking cup of coffee is not a good idea – it gets cold too quickly 😦
If you are cyclo-touring in the UK or France, this is where the fun starts! One could stop under a bridge if there is one available. We did this many times on both of our tours. If it is only light rain, then a tree with a dense canopy will keep you dry for a while – long enough for a cuppa perhaps.
A phone booth will shelter one person, or two if coziness is not a problem! A bus shelter with a roof is a rare find out in the countryside, and they become prized spots for wet fellow cyclists, so one needs to take quick possession when the rain starts! With a bit of strategic organisation, we have found it possible to fit two bikes and two riders into a Scottish bus shelter!But sometimes there is just nowhere to stop! Few of the buildings have awnings or verandahs which we found quite perplexing, given that it rains so much in the UK and France. In these situations, the best idea is to just keep riding to stay warm and to resort to the water bottle for refreshment. Stopping means getting soaked and cold. Not good.
Has anyone else experienced this lack of shelters in the UK and France? I wonder if the rest of Europe and/or Ireland have similar issues for cyclists looking for a dry place to stop for a break?