Cloud Chasing

Myles McCorry on how to turn the threat of bad weather to your advantage for training or just sheer riding pleasure

by Myles McCorry - Myles@bikepure   June 15, 2013  

cloud

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. Sitting with most of my gear on, waiting for the second pot of coffee to empty and the rain to stop. Three times I made it to the front door, worn cleats snapping on the tiles. Three times, I returned to the kitchen defeated by the rain. With each minute that passed -a kilometre was knocked off my planned spin. When the kettle was clicked again, a whole mountain was mentally deleted from the potential spin .

If under pressure for form or fitness, I would have made the planned departure.  But with no races for a month ahead and my arse still emotionally scarred from Mondays soaking, I sat, lingered,  re reading the morning’s paper.   Teeming turned to lashing. Storm eased to raining and slowed to spit. When you squint to see if it is still raining, the excuses are exhausted and I was finally away. North, not South. The hills were lost for the flat lands.

On a spin with the legend Barry Hoban in 1998 he taught me ‘Cloud Chasing’. That afternoon rain was locally imminent and I was tired. He wanted to sell me his bike and I could never say no to a man who won 8 TDF stages. He led, always tanned from 30 years ‘’on the continent’’. Barry educated me that the wind determines how fast the clouds move; So heavy, black, rain loaded clouds may be only swooshing along at  15-20mph. You, on a well maintained bike could out run the weather! Taking on Aeolus, the Greek god of wind with my Campagnolo 10speed.

Country lanes and wide open the heavens are the venue for Cloud Chasing. The Core goal is to remain dry on a day where the club run would have 4, not fifty riders. The theory, that it is not raining everywhere all the time. Out run,  out smart the climate. Entering the battle on a day where the clouds have limits is best and the bits of blue sky can be targets for dry shoulders. Fun is also to be had in a blanket Nimbostratus where the low lying black clouds speak of cold arms and brown chains, you gotta spin quicker, but here too you can beat the rain. Cloud chasing isn’t standing defeated and dripped on under a tree.  It is looking, learning and racing away from the rain. It is beating the clouds and staying dry using your wits and speed. Avoiding the grey, hanging a sharp right into a westerly to avoid the falling sheet ahead.

Wind direction can be determined by how far up the block you are and a quick glance to the stratus, and you are off. Training when you shouldn’t. Extra points for riding over lanes that are recently wet. “Getting wet is for basic amateurs or serious professionals” said Hoban and he took another unannounced 90degree left. Knowing that most roads go somewhere and you are only going to get wet, not die, are two fantastic elements of Cloud Chasing. High hedges add excitement. Gate breaks reveal blue distant horizons and fierce black mist buckets, ready to tip and soak. So confident was Hoban, that a cape was not evident in his middle pocket; mine was bleeding sweat and sticking to my arms.

Since that ride with a champion, I have feathered the joy of cloud chasing spins. Avoiding their contents can be a wondrous way to get temporarily lost. Forcing exploration of new lanes because of their dry future. I have ended up in farmyards, car parks, hill peaks and a foot on the first board of a broken bridge all in the name of keeping dry on wet days. I have found short cuts, long cuts and the need for mudguards and loose change when you get it wrong.

On all but the days of angry cumulonimbus, that big angry mass stretching 8km into the heavens, risk it, get out there and dodge Zeus and his predictable thunderbolts. Intervals get ticked off when the worn tarmac gets spotted by the first droplets. I have been laughing at a raging shower chasing me down like a peloton just gone under the red kite. Avoid hills as they hide weather fronts. Avoid ‘A’ roads as they limit cover and direction options. A man on a bike when the forecasters say he shouldn’t is fantastic. Stolen training.

myles mc corry

12 user comments

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Done this many times, failed many times as well but getting it just right is SUCH a buzz! Then hearing about how the guys on the club run at exactly the same time got absolutely drenched in the large thunderstorm I'd skirted around, lightening and all included, made it all the better! Smile

posted by mb429 [75 posts]
15th June 2013 - 12:42

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Love riding in the rain, plan on doing it with my new beauty. Hftu.

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

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posted by badkneestom [127 posts]
15th June 2013 - 14:28

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Yip, the Mournes teach you that skill too, bot that youd know it from the Wheelers.

Norfolk, where I live now, is excellent ground for cloud chasing....the miles fly by avoiding that big black thing overhead and for once not the bills, your free of those concerns when cloud chasing.

Cant say Barry tought me though. I listened at Geography classes at school, thought it might be handy.

Good to hear from you again Myles! Say Hi to our fella next time you pass him lol 1min/km eh!

posted by Farky [177 posts]
15th June 2013 - 16:22

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Quote:
I have feathered the joy of cloud chasing spins

I have no idea what that means, but it's poetry.

Noli porcum linguere

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posted by captain_slog [262 posts]
15th June 2013 - 19:12

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Terrific blog post Myles - thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks.

My cycling blog: http://girodilento.com/

posted by girodilento [28 posts]
15th June 2013 - 23:52

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Brilliant

posted by Jasonahewitt [14 posts]
16th June 2013 - 13:49

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Good read.

posted by peanut [6 posts]
16th June 2013 - 21:48

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I am looking out of the window at a grey, wet,miserable, windy day.... The forecast for this afternoon is better Wink Cue another coffee!

posted by SideBurn [763 posts]
17th June 2013 - 9:04

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Really, I just always seem to look up and see a constant grey murk,

posted by Simmo72 [264 posts]
17th June 2013 - 13:17

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SideBurn wrote:
I am looking out of the window at a grey, wet,miserable, windy day.... The forecast for this afternoon is better Wink Cue another coffee!

Well that worked! As soon as I stepped out of the door it stopped raining! Forecast was not great, but I have done 100k in the sun, not a drop of rain. As soon as I got home it started again Cool

posted by SideBurn [763 posts]
17th June 2013 - 22:09

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Cracking post. Thanks Myles.

posted by Bhachgen [85 posts]
19th June 2013 - 17:54

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with the right gear on to keep warm and dry it is fun to cycle in bad weather. Capital Cycles

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
4th July 2013 - 22:42

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