The Cat and Fiddle stretches on into the mist. I'm bringing up the rear. Well actually that implies I have some control over the matter. I don't. I'm last because I am not a cyclist. It is not going up the hills that cause me trouble, its the downhill bits. While the others speed off into the distance I shudder and grind my way down the steep bits, dabbing the brakes. I don't trust my bike. For good reason. It sheds bits of itself, such as nuts and bolts, every now and again. So I a bringing up the rear. Its raining! Heavily! At last the summit of the Cat and Fiddle can be seen, and there in the pub car park are my companions eager to get onto Macclesfield.
The descent into Macclesfield is good. Not to steep so I can free wheel, and gradually build up speed. Once we arrive in Macclesfield, we head off along the canal tow path. After the rain and cold Macclesfield is positively balmy, almost spring like. We make good progress on the canal path, though we have to be careful. One careless wobble and you could be drinking canal water and by the look of it it would put you in hospital or worse.
Canal boats drift by, dog walkers and their dogs scatter in our wake, while the fisherman sit by the bank tensing as we pass, annoyed at this intrusion into the peace of their Saturday morning. It stops raining briefly and the sun comes out. We keep going, occasionally crossing the canal by bridge to follow the tow path on the other side. We are covered in mud, and the path becomes increasingly muddy. It starts to rain again. Reaching the end of the canal stretch at Buxworth we stop for a drink at the Navigation. The rain is cascading down heavier than ever. This is the worst bit. My gears have become clogged with mud, they stick and won't shift so that the slightest slope becomes a challenge. Unfortunately most of the way back along the A6 is steadily uphill until Dove Holes. I am last again.
At last we are through Dove Holes and the final downhill stretch into Buxton is a joy, a pleasure as all the ache and pain lifts and even the steady incessant rain cannot dampen my spirits. The showers in the Fire Station wash away the grime and the beer in the London Road sweet and refreshing. The sandwiches and roast potatoes the landlady provides is food for the gods. I am happy and content. pleased with myself even, but that is enough cycling for one year.