Listening to stories of other people’s “unbelievable” journeys to work are normally quite mundane and completely believable. Long queues of motorway traffic and road closures aren’t exactly the stuff of Tolkien, but there was something bizarrely unreal about my commute this morning. The weather report hadn’t said to expect more than a bit of rain, so I thought I was adequately prepared with the addition of overshoes, rain cape and cycling cap. As it turned out I would have been better off with a mask and snorkel.
A planned road closure (yawn!) a few villages away already means I will be having to cycle up and over the Mendip Hills each morning and evening for the next two weeks to circumnavigate the roadworks. But as I headed out onto the pitch black roads this morning there was something eerily unreal about the heavy raindrops lit up in my headlight combined with the deep puddles on the roads. I felt like I was cycling in a dream. My climb up onto the Mendips felt like cycling up a waterfall and the descent left me frozen to the bones. But the real challenge came a few miles later as I approached the village of Wrington. The puddles kept getting deeper and deeper with all the water pouring out of the sky and fields. I was overtaken by a car which then came to a standstill in the middle of the road / lake. He tried to start the ignition but it kept failing, so I cycled round him feeling victorious. Not long after I came across several other stranded motorists with hazard lights flashing. The village of Wrington was completely flooded which looked pretty bad for the residents.
Cycling a roadbike through a river is a test of faith. Knowing that one hidden pothole could cause a capsized cyclist I took it slow which felt like swimming more than cycling. But as I turned a corner I was confronted with the unwelcome sight of a fire engine plus wave heading towards me. The guys inside shouted out apologies as its wave washed up to my knees. At this point I realised the ridiculousness of the situation, but also that I was too far gone to turn back. So I just stopped and took a photo and chatted to the villagers on the street.
The rest of my journey was more of the same. I must have cycled through a dozen badly flooded stretches of roads and seen about 50 stranded cars. I’d like to say this felt like victory for the bike, but I did feel a bit sorry for all the people whose houses were badly flooded.
People say that cycling or any other exercise in the morning makes you energetic for the day ahead. Today this was certainly not true. It took such a mental & physical effort to get to work (and then find places to hang up all my soaking clothing) that I spent most of the day devoid of energy and generally counting down the hours before home time. At least the journey home was less arduous with most of the larger puddles having drained away. One day drown, four to go.