Thursday, 11 December 2008

The rain in spain....

falls, as they say, mainly on the plain. In Cheshire and North Wales, it mainly falls on cyclists.

3/4 of the first time etappers had organised themselves to do the Eureka! Audax on November 9th, the morning after the bonfire party the night before. Only Mark had an attack of sanity and found something else to do.

Regular clicks on Metcheck in the preceding week all foretold doom (and gloom) with varying amounts of wet and nasty being forecast for the Sunday.

Sunday dawned with the Big Red Fun Bus already heading up the M6 towards Cheadle and a date with 210km of the finest backroads to be found in the 'sunny' North West. Having picked Mike up, we arrived in plenty of time for a good pre-ride faff, but despite that Brett was still in the gents putting his lipstick on when the ride started. 5 minutes later, we set off.........alone.

The first thing to be noticed was that Metcheck were right again. The wet and nasty had not yet arrived, but the headwind was on lookout duty for it. A brisk wind hit us square in the face for most of the first section to the Eureka! cyclists cafe, and an appointment with a sausage, bacon & egg bin-lid bun. Having been thoroughly pebbledashed with hail in the headwind on the way we were more than ready for it, especially after Mike's first encounter with the puncture fairy. This delayed progress sufficiently to demand a trip past Ellesmere Port and the potential of a Slothly cup of Tea. Next year perhaps.

During consumption, skies glowered and greyed, and by the time Chester was circumnavigated unpleasantness was falling from the sky. By the time we reached the way round Wrexham roads were beginning to disappear under water and by Bangor-on-Dee we had already gone through 3 flooded sections. Following this the rain got no worse, but it didn't let up either.

With the wind behind, at least the average speed was not disgraceful (albeit not impressive either) but progress to Beeston Lock Cafe was delayed by Mike's second encounter with the puncture fairy. If his wife ever finds out about those two.........

Lights were needed after the stop, and the combination of dark, rain and reflections proved beyond doubt that a Cateye Singleshot Plus, whilst a fine light, is no good for speedier riding in those conditions. Had Brett gone into the ditch down the winding hills, we would both have followed.

By Astbury the rain was pounding and the weather chilling down. I turned off the light to save the battery, and then it wouldn't turn back on again. 30km to go, and only a head torch for illumination!

Some 75 minutes later, glued to the rear wheel of Mikes bike, I arrived at the finish, shattered and relieved.

Weight 108kg (a stone heavier than last year)
1/12 Ratty

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