At that time, it wasn’t actually raining, but we knew it was going to – because the Met Office had been saying so for days, and when they say something like that consistently, without ever changing their tune – you know they’re certain it’s going to happen. We also knew it was coming in from the Irish Sea – because it always does - so I made quite sure that everything was set up so that we were in the tent, with the food, and the riders were standing in the rain, because I’m nice like that.
Andrea, who got to wear a Head Honcho badge for the day (but had to give it back), was swanking around in a luxurious four-wheel-drive which looked as if it came equipped with central heating and a cocktail bar …
We’d all dressed sensibly for the weather of course, but somehow Julie managed to look drop-dead glamorous while I looked like a builder’s labourer.
Life is so unfair.
By 8.00am, Andrea had taken a break from varnishing her nails and knocking back Mai Tais* to deliver flapjack, gingerbread, bananas, biscuits, oranges, pears and gallons and gallons and gallons of water – which we set up, ready for the hungry hordes. Then we waited. Then it started to rain. And we waited. And the wind picked up. And we waited some more. And the rain got heavier. And then, just for a change, we waited for a bit …. and took fuzzy photos of each other in the rain …
Finally, though – just when we thought we might start packing up, divvy up the Grasmere gingerbread and naff off home where all the SENSIBLE people were – they started to arrive. And when they arrived, they came by the dozen … all steamy and dripping wet and INSANELY CHEERFUL, which was worrying. They were also all in Lycra. Wet Lycra.
Eventually, as the rain turned torrential and horizontal, we had to take pity on them, which is when the little tent got a bit a tiny bit crowded, but quite jolly.
When one of the event organizers came up to us and asked if someone in waterproofs could go down to the roundabout and point the riders in the right direction, dear heroic James – who was NOT in waterproofs – puddled off. He was there for over TWO HOURS. A passing motorist felt so sorry for him that she handed him an umbrella. I took a photo of him. If you click on the photo to bring it up really, really big and then screw up your eyes, you can just make out this tiny yellow dot in the middle distance. That’s James. The boy deserves a medal. Especially since, when he finally came back, he was still as cheery as he had been when he left. Extraordinary.
Our two riders on the long distance route – Peter Frost-Pennington and Paul Armstrong – arrived well to the front of the pack, looking disgustingly chipper and woefully unfazed by the driving wind and rain and eventually clocked up respectable times of 6 hours, 12 minutes and 13 seconds and 5 hours, 55 minutes and 50 seconds respectively. Ralf, Sam and Richard on the intermediate course came home in 4:16:02, 3:38:44 and 4:15:59 respectively – while young Samuel Thwaytes whizzed around the Family course in an amazing 1:49:57. Between them, by our first calculations, they’ve managed to raised over £3,000 for the Centre.
So it was all worth it, really. It just didn’t feel QUITE that way at the time.
* I’m fibbing of course. Andrea worked herself into the ground and was still running around like an azure-tailed diptera when the rest of us were tucked up snuggly at home, fast asleep in our armchairs.
All the photos were either taken by Julie or by me … and they should come up much bigger if you click on them a couple of times.