Our original intention was to find a circular route. The nearest reservoir seemed as likely a decent choice as any so we tied the bikes onto the back of the van and off we went.
The day began brightly as it should in August but this is England and it quickly turned sour. A fine mist swept across the landscape enveloping us into some kind of Jane Austin romance seeping through our light summer clothing whilst bewildered sheep, shorn of their warm winter cladding, wandered aimlessly in front of our wheels daring us to run through the muck.
As we passed the sunken village with its forlorn abandoned church-bell tolling miserably the rain began in earnest. Sublime in our ignorance of the true rise and fall of the land we peddled onward full in the knowledge that for us there was no going back. Halfway and the signpost sent us along a path tracking the main road until they disappeared into oblivion. Passersby seemed lost to their own predicament as well as to ours and so we peddled on. Alarms rang when we entered onto the Oakham roundabout but Sir Galahad, unashamed and glorious in his cycling Lycra pointed like a compass towards our intended destination and we sallied forth.
Rain flowed like a stream down our unguarded collars. Unable to see through my spectacles, besmirched with mud and fallen leaves we stumbled down a hidden lane into a nature reserve. The building looked closed or worse, membership funded by morose binocular carrying middle-aged men on a mission. I took it upon myself to march, like Boadicea, unopposed onto the viewing platform with a cup of vending machine coffee and refused to budge until my clothes had drip-dried. The Manager’s stern warnings of “permit holders only” flowing away from my ears on the cold draught of August 2016’s departure from normality.
The rain stopped. The clouds thickened. I merrily waved goodbye, turned the corner and the effing-rain plummeted from the sky once more. Every push on the pedal became an uphill struggle. Only the lonely were out that day.
Twisting and turning, slipping and sliding, I slowly made my way after a quickly disappearing husband. A cheery smile and wave from a tour guide surprised me at the next loving gate her batch of multi-glow-in-the-dark followers smiling like banshees in a horror movie. I made my escape inanely glad that civilisation still existed! Empowered, we made ‘jolly’ falling off our bikes at the next steep climb. A hiker hailed us and seeing my distress offered up the notion of success when he said, “There’s a pub round the corner!” I staggered with my sturdy steed into the comfort of a warm and friendly hostelry. Food and drink aplenty our hunger abated by rice and mango chutney we began the final leg of our English Adventure and back to the car-park.