We awoke to the doom-laden phrase "Dress warm and dry lads, it's nasty out there!" We put off looking out the window until we were fully dressed... Oh god it was nasty. Constant drizzle was pattering against the pane and large puddles had already formed all over the car park. Luckily our bikes were undercover but access to them was via one such puddle, also my waterproofs were in the saddlebags. Oh, well there was nothing for it but to eat a hearty breakfast and steel ourselves for the worst. Not only was it raining and looked like it would all day but the wind was against us and this was pegged to be the longest day of the ride at 71 miles. Expressions were grim, mutterings were heard but eventually we had everything together. Here's an impression of us at the off:
Unbowed we trundled off back down the path we'd come in on, turning off just after to find ourselves climbing an excruciating gradient up a not inconsiderable hill! This was Not Part Of The Plan, expect that it was. It's humbling to think that the likes of Jeff (front left above) at somewhat twice my age (I hope I have that right!) considers such things a minor inconvenience! That hill conquered we pressed on out of Lincoln and once again set into a steady pace in the aforementioned groups. Due to the hideous weather there not much to be said about the ride itself, you had to concentrate hard to see ahead of you. Sightseeing really wasn't on the cards.
Of note was after 10-15 miles of drizzle we can upon, gods-be-praised! a co-op and one stop. The former provided energy snacks, drinks, sellotape and other sundries. More importantly the One Stop provided... Dry socks! A finer thing than dry socks when you are soaking fucking wet and can't feel your feet cannot be imagined. I will forever love that One-Stop.
We were informed that the advance group had gathered at a garden centre with an open coffee shop a few miles away. By this point my Father and William had caught up with us so we cycled on to meet them. The Garden center was another blessing. Warm, dry and with coffee and tea we were able to change into our dry socks and catch up Team ScubaBike before they headed off again:
After They had sloshed off we followed shortly afterwards. Myself and Ian had decided to try and travel as fast as we could for as long as we could to shorten the amount of time we were outside in the rain. This was a pretty punishing endevour but despite the weather we managed to keep up a decent pace and at points it was even pleasant as the pace kept us warm.
Lincolnshire continued to be flat after the insane hill at the start and really theres not a lot to comment on until we reached Goole at about 50 miles...
"Goole, like Poole, only grittier" - Ian
Goole is apparently "The Uk's Premier Inland Port". It's also spectacularly ugly, quite clearly a functioning place but on a rainy bank holiday, Venice it ain't. By this point the dry socks had also soaked and I really couldn't feel my feet. We searched in vain for somewhere that looked vaguely pleasant to eat and settled on a Weatherspoon's on a roundabout. Cheap, hot, filling food and massive coffees were partaken while scores of taxi's dropped off glammed up men and women, there was clearly some form of celebration on. Can't think what. The staff were really friendly and interested in what we were doing and in generally it brightened up our day, if briefly. After snarfing an uncredited three page document on the benefits of Real Ale that seemed to have been dropped by a guerilla enthusiast (I may still have this somewhere) we collected our bikes and moved on.
Then I had a bit of a problem. As we were about 10 miles from our goal the support car pulled up by us for a bit of a chat and to check we were ok. We confirmed we were good to finish and the car drove off. In a momentary lapse of concentration I failed to notice a drain grate as I was pushing the bike off. The front wheel dropped into the gap before I was on the seat, physics did its thing and, well, I'll let you do the math. Ow.
None the less we managed the last 20 miles finally pulling into the Old Rectory, Sutton On Derwent with an hour to spare before dinner. We were met at the door by the soft spoken gent who was running the place who took all of wet stuff to be dried in the boiler room. Fluffy towels and warm showers awaited us, but alas no tea as the kettle appeared not to work.
We cleaned up and rested before heading off to the "St Vincent Arms" a lovely freehouse down the road that provided us with much needed food and beer. I had a long conversation with Andrew about the rather tangled history of Sinclair, Acorn, Apple, Arm and Amstrad will wolfing down my pork belly. Soon I realised I was shattered not to mention extremely sore and decided to make my way back for an early night, not entirely sure I would be able to ride the next day. Much encouragement came via folk over phone, text, IM and facebook, for which I am thoroughly grateful. Not long after I was snoring gently away dreaming of rain and long winding roads...