Sunday, 29 November 2009

Argyle and the rain


Went to see Plymouth Argyle play a home game against Barnsley yesterday, after having been invited by a collegue. Given that I've lived in Plymouth for some 10 years now, and that I've never actually seen Argyle play, I figured that it was probably about time I went, despite not being a football fan.

Metcheck.com & Accuweather.com both agreed that we'd be in for a fair old bit of rain from around 15h00 onwards, which was when the match was set to start. (Unsurprisingly, the BBC weather on their site yet again got it wrong and actually predicted some sunshine!).

Normally when Argyle play a home game, everywhere around Home Park is jammed full of cars. Of course, this wasn't going to be a bother to me as I was going to cycle there.

I've recently obtained a 2nd bike - a Raleigh MTB without any suspension, or seat, with bent handlebars and faded paint. Having replaced the bars, fitted a seat and fiddled with most bits, I found it was more than just good to go - it was a good bike to ride. The bike is also featherlight compared to my other one.

Given that the Raleigh didn't cost me a penny, I figured that if I had to have a bike stolen or badly vandalised, I'd rather lose the Raleigh than my "normal" bike. Obviously this meant I was going to ride the Raleigh to the football match.

I normally cycle with a helmet, riding gloves, clear glasses when its raining or at night, and sunglasses in the sunshine, but I didn't want to have to carry all that around with me at the football ground, so decided to simply ride in "normal" clothes, sans helmet, goggles and gloves. For my last birthday I was given a rather excellent cycling rain jacket, but as it doesn't have a hood I left that home, too. Instead, I wore a coat that I normally wear when walking out on Dartmoor in adverse weather

The trip there was uneventful, and I soon had the bike locked up and found myself waiting for my collegue in the Britannia pub. A few beers later it was time to go take our seats, and not long after that the match started, but not before the rain had started.

Argyle scored the 1st goal, and it was a suberb effort. "Crikey", I thought, "Football may yet be an exciting sport to watch". But is was not to be: Barnsley soon equalised with a goal that wasn't as much scored as accidently rolled into Argyle goal. From there it went downhill rapidly, with Barnsley scoring several more times. Halftime saw a wet and despondent crowd of Argyle supporters trying to get to grips with what was sure to be a humiliating defeat. And all the time it rained, harder and harder.

At the start of the second half Argyle seemed determined to at least try and score another goal, and in fact came close a few times. And then it happened - the ref abandoned the match as the rain was too heavy and the pitch was too waterlogged. Argyle was saved by the rain and the relief was evident in all the smiles on Argyle supporters' faces, though understandably Barnsley felt robbed.

Riding home was good fun! Cutting through Cental Park, I had to dodge the many Argyle supporters walking home in the rain. Near the bottom, close to Peverell, there was an enormous pond formed by the rainwater, which covered the road and more. My bike's bottom bracket disappeared under water when I cycled through it.
From there it was up the hill then down onto Mutley plain. Torrents of water came gushing from side streets and despite riding about a meter from the kerb I was riding through a lot of water for most of the time.

On Mutley plain itself in places the water was overflowing the kerb onto the pavement and it was actually quite close to starting to flood some shops. At the time I didn't actually realise how bad things were. The few people that were about were scurrying, trying to get out of the rain as quickly as possible, and even car occupants looked quite miserable in their steel & glass boxes with fogged-up windows. I got some strange looks from them, possibly due to the great big grin I had plastered on my face.

I've reached a conclusion about yesterday: I'd MUCH rather get sopping wet while cycling in heavy rain than watch football. Cycling is just so much more fun!