Did it really rain in 2012?


St Ives CC at Woodford Mill: look, no rain!

Memory is a beguiling asset of humankind. Ask people what they did 30 or 40 years ago, and they might regale you for hours. Ask them what they had for lunch yesterday, well…..that’s another story.

The media, and the meteorologists in particular, have drilled into us that 2012 has been a year of weather extremes. Last winter, the driest on record, the rest of the year the wettest on record (for England at least). In 10 or more years time, what will people really

A familiar view for the 'lanterne rouge'!

A familiar view for the ‘lanterne rouge’!

remember about 2012? GB success in the Tour de France? The Queen’s Jubilee? The Olympics and Paralympics? Will they really remember the anxiety and the misery caused by the weather? Some will, without a doubt, but many will not.

Here is one man’s perspective. Delving a little deeper into my cycling statistics for 2012, I discovered that I had ridden on 232 days of the year, averaging 44 miles (72 km) each day. What I am going to say now is no proof of anything, but one man’s perception. My memory of the weather of 2012 goes predominantly against the meteorologists’ statistics. My thinking is filled mostly with the fine weather, the sunshine, the landscapes and miles of clear open roads. I am sure (though can’t prove it) I never used my rain jacket on the bike more than a dozen times in total.

Now, all of this could be down to the luck of the Irish (and my ancestry is predominantly Irish). I just happened to go out on the driest, sunniest 220 days of the year. Or I could simply be accused of blue-sky thinking. Mmn….very interesting. I wonder what you think?

A momentary stop.....

A momentary stop…..and the sun is shining!

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 5, 2013, in Cycling UK and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Frank

    Speaking as someone whose livelihood depends on cycling I must disagree. Maybe I am just more acutely aware of the weather conditions because I often have 15-20 glum faces looking at me over breakfast but boy was it wet! While you have somehow racked up 10k miles in 2012 I have never cycled less – this is partly because there always seems to be some competing demand for my time but the weather also played a significant part. I can recall SO many days times when I had a spare couple of hours but the rain was hurling it down.

    To make matters worse, several of the trips that I have led in 2012 were under canvas and there can be few activities better designed for heightening ones sensitivity to rain!

    We are promised drier weather in Jan and so far so good; I have managed about 150 miles (probably more than in the last two months of last year). If it can only last to the beginning of Feb when I head down to NZ to start following your trail!



  2. Fortunately it never rains DownUnder Frank. It was too hot for riding today, but I did it anyway, though didn’t manage 44 miles. I’ll have to build up to it.


  3. Well Frank, it certainly rained on Karon and me while we cycled LEJOG. Of the 40 days it took at our somewhat leisurely pace, we probably had about 6 days where it didn’t rain at some point in the day!


  4. hmm, a few miles up the road and I have a slightly different perspective. A big chunk of my riding is commuting. Before April I remember riding my off road route about a month earlier than usual. Why? Because it was bone dry – usually January to March it is too muddy to comfortably commute. However, after April the ground became and stayed very soggy, more so than previous years. However, I don’t feel like I was rained on more than usual (an entirely subjective impression as I don’t keep a weather log for my rides – perhaps I should!), even though the evidence on the ground suggested a wetter summer than usual.

    I also remember enjoying some very pleasant summer’s evening rides too, but then if it was raining I probably would not have gone out.

    Anyway, I can’t find a source, but I remember hearing a quote from Boris Johnson that London cycle commuters will only get rained on 12 times a year…


  5. Steve, I stand corrected and ‘castigated’! My inaccurate one man’s perception is just that……..one man’s inaccurate perception. And of course, my livelihood didn’t depend on it; and that can change anyone’s perception about anything to an acute degree.
    Hope our paths cross in Invercargill!


  6. Richard, all we are hearing here is that Oz is suffering an intense heatwave, and wildfires in Tasmania. Hey, it better cool down by late February…….;0)


  7. Which goes to prove, Bob, that there is a huge gulf between reality and one man’s inaccurate perception. Maybe I’m just guilty of wanting to remember only the good bits. I suppose there is some virtue in that……………


  8. Richard, good to hear someone else remembering some of the sunshine! But I do remember keeping my mudguards on the bike throughout that unusually dry winter; in April I decided to take them off for the ‘summer season’, and guess what……..it started raining……so they went back on.

    I think Boris Johnson ‘borrowed’ that statistic from elsewhere. It has been a well-known fact for years. Of course, it doesn’t mean it only rains on 12 days of the year, nor that it only rains on 12 occasions when commuters might be caught (you have so many variables to build in, like exact location, time you commute, how long your journey is etc…..). My commute used to last 4-6 minutes (depending on traffic) in Cambridgeshire (dry county). I seldom carried rainwear…..but then I could easily wait out showers before heading out.

    I passed a crowd of your guys last week (outside Tilbrook). Were you amongst them?


  9. Well, I do remember lots of nice, sunny, and even warm days out on the bike this year… but also some seriously wet rides. I do recall that I participated in the 30 Days of Biking challenge in April and rode every day of the month. Unfortunately I was unaware that the UK was participating in its 30 Days of Raining challenge at the same time! So I can confirm it definitely rained every day in April, at least in London.


  10. Thanks for those thoughts Lucy. I knew I was opening myself up to be corrected by a lot of level-headed people, whose heads are not ‘above the clouds’, and who have grappled with the everyday demands of a commuting timetable or, as in your case, committing to simply ride every day in a month. Well done for doing it…….despite the rain!


  11. Interesting post Frank. I keep trying to convince people that the UK is not actually that wet (or at least the Southeast) and that I very rarely get soaked while out on the bike…your post helps prove my theory!


  12. It’s always good to have someone on side, Alberto, but as you’ll see from comments above, we may be amongst the minority!


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