A few years back there was a census return due, and quite a bit of fuss being made by fans of Star Wars who wanted to put down ‘ Jedi ‘ against the ‘ state your religion ‘ question. My pal Brian, always happy to look for a metaphorical stick when he comes across an equally metaphorical hornets nest, argued that he should be able to put down ‘ cyclist ‘ in that same box. He even started to put together something of a case that began with the fact that his local group of riders met every Sunday.
Now, the reason I am telling you this has a lot to do with cycling as tribe and code, and a bit about weather. Yesterday here in Galloway it was 3’c when the pan went on the kitchen stove for porridge at a smidge before 6am. The view up into the hills from the kitchen windows were vague, misty and achingly beautiful as the sun came up over Screel Hill. Today it was 14’c and a lot less photogenic. Venus, the winter visitor, had been pin sharp to the south and not a breath of wind yesterday. It was quite a shock, the first hint of a seasonal change and the sun tipping towards it’s winter arc.. The weather in Galloway keeps you on your toes.
By late morning both days will be 18’c, so what to wear if you do not have the good fortune of a pro contract and a team car just behind you. Well today within the first 2 miles the gilet was off and in the pocket, and under 10 miles into the ride the arm warmers were rolled down and a mile later they too were in the jersey pocket. Yesterday I could have added knee warmers for the cold start and they could have joined all the other bits of kit in the rear pockets and still left room for a phone. This is roadie kit and it works for me.
Now we cyclists are a tribal in what we wear and gravel is a sort of grey area with bib shorts that have pockets for bananas trying to be in both camps. I turned up for guiding gravel about a month ago and I wore baggies so as not to look too frightening on day 1. They wore top end road kit and of course on day two because we had not agreed on anything, they wore baggies and I wore road kit. Not quite as bad as turning up at a party in the same frock as someone else, but awkward.
So what are the ‘ take aways ‘ from what I have told you? Most importantly, it can and possibly will be close to zero early in the morning come Raiders Gravel in October. An 8 o’clock start may combine a steep climb out of Gatehouse with near freezing temperatures. Whatever your tribe you need to be layered, light and very flexible in what you wear and have a plan on where you are going to stow things later in the ride. I could make a strong case for knee warmers, arm warmers and a gilet. But we all have our unique zone of comfort or human tog rating.
I have done enough endurance races to be able to offer my thoughts on getting to the start of Raiders. You will want to go to the toilet despite having gone just minutes ago and you will need to be slightly cold unless you have a pal standing by to catch your jacket with seconds to go before the OFF. If you are toasty, that first climb will have you cooked. As for needing a pee, that is just in the mind except when it’s not.
The above blog was written for Raiders Gravel, which along with a few other projects has rather taken over our life. Who knew that working on a 4 day bicycle festival would take so much time?