Rider, racer and possessor of boundless energy, EWS racer Traharn Chidley argues that British weather is good for us. The sun may be shining now, but Traharn reckons the riders who have been slogging in the slop over winter are the winners.
Who am I kidding? Who doesn’t love riding dusty trails weaving through plush trees with beaming sun rays shooting through? All you need is a hero tune and a slowmo’ clip to feel like a star in your own Avenger’s movie – however, unless you’re a cleaner or in the building trade, ‘dust’ isn’t a word us Brits are too accustomed to. But ever wondered why so many great racers come from the UK? We have every single terrain type on offer, and can practice in all the elements. I’ve travelled to New Zealand, Canada and the Alps, and with fair weather riding being a daily occurrence (accompanied with a personal throne escorting you to the top of the mountain like royalty) it’s far too easy to skip a day when the heavens open.
“Let’s wrap up and do this”
It’s safe to say that we’re a nation who loves to race – and for the most part, I’d say ‘whatever the weather’. We’re currently in spring, and weather’s about as unpredictable as it gets, switching from flip-flop tanning sunshine to hail storms in the bustling wind. Don’t get me wrong, I know how easy it is to stay sitting by the fire instead of dragging yourself out into the cold, the wet and the mud, scheduling at least an hour of cleaning your bike and kit once the ride’s done. But if you don’t know when the next dry day will be? “Let’s wrap up and do this”.
Once you’re on the trail, it’s all forgotten. If anything, the mud adds a bit of spice – keeping you on your toes, helping you push your limits, forcing you out of your comfort zone … plus, it’s usually a softer landing if things start to go sideways. If you can ride like a boss in the mud, you’ll be killing it at a dry race (we will get at least one).
The Brits have all sorts of reputations, and unfortunately we’re known for our weather complaints (and bad teeth; don’t forget to floss), which has rattled my brain for years now. We’re never happy, even when we start to get a summer heat-wave. It’s all we dream of, yet people start to complain ‘it’s too hot’ … Are you kidding me? I’ve come to terms with the fact that people just like to have something to moan about, and in the UK it’s the weather (and traffic – but let’s not get into that one) but you can’t that deny people are happier when the sun’s out. Not only is it scientifically proven to be great for your body (but don’t forget the sunscreen), it also feeds the soul, making everyone happier. Ever noticed how polite and friendly people are when the sun’s beaming? Complete strangers exchanging smiles from across the street, maybe even a “how do you do?” or two. I’ve found myself smiling from ear to ear with no reason, just day dreaming, probably humming a catchy tune, closing my eyes pointing my face up to the sun, then I realise I’ve been smiling for quite some time, and think ‘oh, I must of looked like a right oddball’. But if you see someone smile, you don’t think, “what a weirdo”, you simply smile too. That’s what the sun is – one big smile.
Even when it’s raining and 1pm feels like dusk, the sun is still there – smiling a hidden grin behind a beard of cloud. Even when the cloud becomes a full veil, and the rain is insanely heavy, there’s still a smile hiding behind there and I find myself doing the same actions as if it was sunny: I look up to the skies, close my eyes and smile with rain pouring onto my face. [weirdo – Ed]
We don’t need to wait for the sun to feed our body and soul – outside is always good for you, whatever the weather. Exercise and fresh air, whether it’s raining, snowing, cold, windy, will do you the world of good if you just get out. Ride with friends if you need the extra motivation on those sour days, because while you might get to choose when you train, race dates are fixed in the calendar and you’re going to have to take whatever weather you get.
There have been far too many races where the riders start dropping like flies, separating the men from the boys, women from the girls, and even the women from the men. I’ve raced in some horrific conditions, yet it’s never crossed my mind to pack it in and go home. Whether you’re trying to get value for money; making up for the hours travelled; maintaining your self-respect – there’s always something holding me there, but bottom line is, I enjoy it.
The show goes on rain or shine, so get out of the van, chuck on those questionable waterproofs and join the elements for a party. Finding it too hard? You’re not alone, but don’t give up – just ask the marshals, everyone will be struggling on the same sections – and it’s no reason to throw in the towel.
Whether you’re racing against the clock, racing against your pals on good old Strava, or simply out with your friends, laugh your way down, earn that hot chocolate … maybe even add some cheeky marshmallows. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be there. So many people would love to be in your shoes, wear those kicks proud. Don’t stay home, show everyone what real Brits are made of: the tough stuff.
Rain or Shine, mud slide or dust rooster, we’ll be the ones with a foot-long smile.
It’s just started pouring again… I guess that’s my cue to get out for a shred.