Imagine your ultimate ride. Chances are the sky is blue, the shade is blood-fizzingly warm and the sun sparkles on every ocean, lake and cold drink from here to the horizon.
Sunshine is universally adored, except by people who get lost in deserts without a hat, vampires, and the terminally Scottish. But you’ll never meet any of them, so never mind. There’s just something about sunshine that makes people happy.
So the obvious condition to delete, were some weather god to descend mid-ride from a cloud, apologise for being late and offer to grant you a single wish, is rain.
Nobody likes rain. It’s wet, for a start. It makes you cold and sad. It’s one half of mud. It gets in your eyes and your socks and trickles down your bones to your soul. It’s bleak.
But I’d argue that banishing rain out of everything — mist, fog, hail, sleet, snow, wind, cold, heat, humidity — would be a noob’s mistake. The knee-jerk reaction of a real beginner. Honestly, it’s like you’ve never met a 25ft weather god in golden gumboots before.
What I’d consign to the void, courtesy of Forcastus the 25ft Weather God and his isobar third eye, is wind. Why? Wind you can’t prepare for. Wind has almost no upsides. Wind is literally just a drag.
Think about it. Rain might make you cold and soggy, but it throws up all kinds of new challenges. It transforms off-road trails and supercharges the development of bike-handling skills — witness the high proportion of successful downhill racers who come from the UK. Rain also naturally selects for the hardiest riders, because fair-weather bikers just stay home and never progress.
Rain also provides the most beautiful light when the clouds part on a winter’s day, creating vibrant, multi-dimensional vistas that burn straight into your memory under ‘reasons to be alive’.
Plus, you can dress for rain. Modern jackets are very breathable — they let vapour out but won’t let liquid in — while Merino garments stay warm even when wet. Dress carefully and you can stay comfy even in prolonged downpours.
The same goes for snow: you can prepare for it. Primaloft, windproofing and buffs to seal necks and scalps keep you warm, while fatbikes keep plugging right over the top of frozen water. Extreme humidity is a bit of a downer, but everything else — from heat to fog to cloud-induced midday darkness — can be prepared for.
Wind, on the other hand, is just annoying. It makes the simplest jumps sketchy. It grabs the steering of your road bike every time you ride past a junction, a gate or a gap. It makes aero wheels a liability, while headwinds turn hard climbs into vertical ascents, flats into climbs and descents into slow, pedally chores.
You can’t even just go out and mess around with wheelies, manuals and other skills, because it’ll jerk you around with those too. It’s the unfunny YouTube prankster of meteorology. It’s the cackling douche-bro of the atmosphere. Like and subscribe, guys!
The one solitary thing wind is good for is the tailwind effect of speeding along in an uncanny bubble of silent, still air. However, a) you can never forget this speed is totally unearned and b) Forcastus the Weather God enjoys swinging the airstream about so that, somehow, you’re grinding into a headwind both on the way out and the way back.
Gods, right? They move in mysterious, even stupid ways. Just look at our weather god’s bejewelled jockstrap of thunderclouds and its icicle zip; look at His windy beard plaited with the skulls of the bored. Forcastus is a jerk.
That aside, grant me my one wish, O Forcastus, you mighty thing I worship constantly as if you were needy and insecure, which you can’t be on account of the mightiness! Consign wind to the void! It’s no good to anyone. If you do, I’ll totally Like and Subscribe, and so will every single person reading this. Promise.