I bailed out of work early yesterday so that I could get home and get a good 2 hour ride in before the evening peak hour. Although it had been raining heavily at work, I reckoned I could sneak a ride in between showers.
It all went to plan - until I walked outside to get on the bike. I'd made it home in good time, I didn't dawdle and faff around the house, my tyres hadn't gone flat and so on; but just as I walked outside, it started raining.
Back inside to read a book for a while.
By the time the rain cleared, I had read the first chapter of "Band of Brigands: The First Men in Tanks". If the first chapter is anything to go by, this is a very well written book, and it should grip me all the way through.
As soon as I no longer heard the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, I split. Just one problem with that - a kilometre down the road, I realised I was not wearing my gloves.
That is only the 2nd time in over 4 years that I have forgotten my gloves. I am very systematic about prepping for a ride - everything is in its place before a ride, so I simply go to that place and collect everything and off I go. I can prep in my sleep if things are in their rightful spots. Where I went wrong is that the rain disturbed my system, which is how I find myself on a wet road sans gloves.
A sane person would have turned around and gone home, but once I am on the road, I am on the road. Again, the same warped mentality that requires me to put all riding gear in a certain spot also dictates that once the wheels are in motion, they continue heading away from home unless the bike (or body) suffers catastrophic mechanical failure.
What's the big deal about gloves?
Firstly, there is the weather factor. In summer, they stop sunburn on the back of your hands. In winter, they prevent your fingers from icing up and falling off.
Then there is the road rash factor - if you go over the handlebars, the first thing you do is put your hands out to break your fall. Bike gloves have a big padded leather patch on the palms which helps to keep your skin on when they make contact with asphalt at speed. Feel like running a cheese grater over each hand? No. Then wear gloves.
The last thing is the compression factor. It doesn't matter for short rides, but once you spend more than about half an hour on a road bike, you start to get sore spots on your palms from where the skin and muscle is bunched up from contact with the handlebars. If you've ever lifted heavy weights, you'll know how the bar pulls and pushes at your skin, depending on which way it is facing. On a bike, the muscle in your palm is pushed back in a ball towards your wrist. The padding on the palm of the glove takes care of that.
Given that it was wet, I was extra careful to not fall off. I did not want to do the wet road cheese grater thing. And after 45 minutes, my hands started to hurt, so home I went. No gloves equals truncated ride.
Bugger. But I needed to go home anyway to avoid the evening peak. I have this simple rule about riding - don't put yourself in a position of unnecessary risk. Lot's of traffic equals risk, so I try to position my rides in such a way as to avoid the peaks, and to especially avoid the end of school when a million distracted mums are on the roads.
Some might say that we should fine and police and harass those mums until their behaviour changes and they stop knocking over cyclists in a distracted manner. Me, being a student of human nature, take an alternate track. If there are two routes to a destination, with the short one going past a school and the longer one avoiding the school, then I will take the longer route at school drop off and pick up times. I do not get on a self-righteous horse (or bike) and demand that people do this and that and something else to guarantee my safety - I simply avoid the problem. Much easier than trying to deal with human nature.