Ten souls were already assembled at the Hazel Pear when I got there just before 9.30 (I try to get to any rendezvous just a couple of minutes early as I hate waiting and getting cold). We were about half and half Weaver Valley and Warrington Road Club. The Weaver Valley half were me, Alan, Jim, Paul, Ed in Red (later found out he is called Ben, apologies Ben) and Geoff. Ewart arrived late in spite of the fact that he had arrived half an hour early. I know, strange. I apologise profusely to the WRC members as I was completely remiss in committing names to memory. I know Ian was there, beyond that please blame my amnesia on oxygen starvation.
We had all been consulting various weather forecasts and had come dressed as advised; a warm day, perhaps a bit damp early on. Most were in shorts and short sleeves with arm warmers. Several of us had bought capes for the anticipated cold descents or in case of standing around waiting for a puncture.
Led by Jim and a WRC member we set off at a decent but not over hasty pace through Northwich, Davenham, Lower Peover and thence via fairly quiet but damp lanes to Alderley Edge. Soon after Alderley Edge a very fine spray started falling, it was so fine you thought it was coming from the back wheel of the rider in front. By the time we had reached the top of the Brickworks climb the fine spray had adjusted it’s nozzle and was now calling itself heavy spray. Up the climb people stopped and caped up at various points and we regrouped at the top now with full rainshower spray setting. Ed in Red (Ben) being last on the road said he was going to turn around if we hadn’t waited, I told him there was no chance of that, if we had to spend the day suffering then so did he.
As we climbed, the thermometer dropped from the near 70 degrees the day started at, to barely 50 degrees. This meant that the descent down in to Kettleshulme wasn’t anywhere near as fun as it can be, raining hard by now, spray in my eyes from the car in front and shivering so hard my bike was shaking.
Turning right off the main road we climbed into thick cloud but the rain relented somewhat at this point, too late really as we were all soaked already.
Again we regrouped before the cold, wet drop in to the Goyt Valley where, by magic, the cloud and rain disappeared and a lovely day was presented. The climb up to Derbyshire Bridge is a good one, effectively a closed road with a not bad surface and something that tests with it’s changing gradients and little bumps.
Ewart and a WRC member had gone off the front up the climb followed by another small group of a half a dozen of us and then behind, Jim and Ben and a couple of others.
Getting to the top of the Cat and out of the shelter of the hill the headwind was bonkers, even from the back where I was sitting. Ewart and his WRC companion were in the distance and we set off in pursuit (or rather, the people in front did) catching them a couple of miles before the descent which inevitably turned in to a little race.
In to the café with beans, toast and tea ordered we sat down to an unheated dining room, all of us soaking and cold. Tea arrived and we cupped our hands around the heat like the little match girl would in an effort to stave off hypothermia. All too soon but actually 55 minutes later we were back on our bikes and to say it was cold would be to say the Pope is Catholic. My, my, my. Before I got going I was shaking so hard it was like I had a rare tropical disease.
We went downhill from the café past Algreave and then up the sharp little climb of the Wild Boar Pub which to me always looks like something from American Werewolf in London. By this point however no one was complaining of being cold any more. The roads were fairly dry by now and the wind had abated for our drop down in to Sutton and Gawsworth and then a steady and together group all the way home.
I think that it is a truism that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothes, but when every weather forecast tells you the same thing what can you do? Blame Michael Fish I think.
Yesterday was actually my 15th day training on the trot, not 10th as I thought, and although first thing in the morning I had really heavy legs and I had told myself I was only going out for 2 hours, and although the weather turned out wet and cold and miserable and although there was over 4000 feet of climbing I was still delighted to spend the day and 78 miles in the company of a group of like-minded sadomasochists. Thanks Jim for an excellently lead route and to the WRC members too.