Thursday, July 05, 2007


Now I know this summer has been renowned for its terrible and changeable weather (although I am not sure what is "changeable" about rain and more rain) but Tuesday took the biscuit.

As I was riding home approaching Wandsworth at just before 5pm I could see that the sky was getting very dark. From Wandsworth bridge Roundabout I saw two lightening strikes on nearby vehicles, and as I turned by the Town Hall the rain started to fall. By the time I had reached the bottom of West Hill the rain was falling very heavily and visibility was deteriorating fast. Just before the fire station I took the opportunity to pull up onto the pavement as the road had become a river by this point and in the busy rush hour traffic I decided that playing with the traffic should be avoided in the conditions. I thought I would wait out the storm as these summer things don't normally rain that heavily for long. Then came the hail. Tons of it - some of it very large - probably about 8 or 10mm across.

I was wrong about the storm passing fast. The hail came down for many minutes. By this time my normally very dry clothing was completely soaked through. The temperature as shown by my bike was 13C, well below the 25C it had been when I was travelling through Vauxhall about 15 minutes earlier. The torrent of water was beginning to wash along the hail. Unlike some places where it accumulated to look like snow, on West Hill the hail was washed along, floating on the water. The pictures from the BBC website give some idea what it was like!

As the hail began to ease off, the Stig came by on her bike. Always fearless she had just pressed on in the conditions and I thought I had better join her as I didn't want her to think me a wooss!

Rather than ride along the A3 where there was a high probability of spray and flooding in the underpasses, we cut across by Wimbledon Common - this seemed easier than normal so maybe traffic was avoiding the tennis (what tennis - its raining!) It was still raining hard when we stopped for petrol in Raynes Park, but had stopped by the time we had filled up and paid. Two days later my gloves are nearly dry, but I am not sure my boots will ever be the same!