Just when I reach the point of no return, when it makes no difference whether I go back or carry on, it starts to rain. Heavily. It drips off my helmet, it soaks into my fleece. I am on my bike 10 miles from home. I am on my bike because several months ago I agreed to do a charity bike ride. It has been organised by Phil on behalf of the NSPCC. It seemed such a good idea at the time. And now our photo has appeared in the Advertiser and people have said “Saw your photo in the Advertiser. Fifty miles! Good luck!” This latter comment aimed at me rather than the distance. People don’t see me as a cyclist, I don’t see myself as a cyclist for heavens sake. So I decided as it was only a week away I better get some practise, better get the old bike out and dust it down to make sure it works, and so here I am ten miles away from home, cold, knackered and getting wetter by the minute.
It says in the Advertiser that we are going to “tackle” the Cat and Fiddle. They think they have been clever I suppose using the word tackle in the piece, because most of the intrepid cyclists are from Buxton Rugby Club. Very funny! The Cat and Fiddle is a modest little climb out of Buxton on the Macclesfield road. The summit if one can use such a bold word is the site of the Cat and Fiddle pub. Personally I think the Cat and Fiddle will eat me and my bike. I just hope that it spits me out at the top.
The rain gets heavier, but perversely I begin to enjoy it. Must be the endorphins. Just after I rattle across a cattle grid, my pedal falls off. A nut has come lose. The endorphins seem to have stopped working. Amazingly I find the nut and having sensibly brought along a spanner that fits, I fix the pedal and carry on. I reach Sparrow Pit and despite the rain which is now lashing and slanting across from the Kinder plateau, I feel good.
Only seven miles to go! I glide past Bennetson Lake. Well when I say a lake in reality it is more of a pond really. Last June in the warmth of a summer Saturday afternoon as England mourned the demise of its football team in the World cup yet again, a group of us, hot, dusty, dirty and pissed after a cycling come pub crawl through the Hope Valley, decided to stop and cool off in this pond. There were barriers across the path, but they were nothing to us as we were determined. What a sight it must have made from the main road. Ten naked fat rugby players swimming in a murky pond. The rain gets heavier and I plod on. Through Dove Holes, perhaps the ugliest village in England? So they, who ever they are say, and back into Buxton. I feel happy, and elated. Maybe next week won’t be so bad after all.