Friday, 6 November 2009


On Sunday in the Lake District it rained. All night Saturday and all day Sunday. I was doing a 5hr adventure race with a friend (who recently produced The Arthur but is still fit as a fiddle). We set off on the run, feet splashing down the tarmac lane and then mud oozing through the mesh in our trainers as we turned up hill on the muddy bridleway.

Steady, slippery rocks, lethal roots. "This'd be fun to ride", I'd say.

2hrs later we jumped on our bikes and wheeled them over the churned up field before slinging a leg over the saddle and pedalling hard up through the village to try and warm up (pancake in mouth). A strong climb up a gravelling bridleway got the blood flowing and saw was our first experience of the River Cumbria.

All of Cumbria was a river.

Every bridleway had a few inches of white tumbling water frothing over it, rushing down the hillside. Some steeper hills had become waterfalls and it was like night riding, not being able to quite see where the obstacles were. Weight back, heels down, let the bike bump over the invisible rocks. Feel your feet hard back on the pedals, socks full of water. Gorgeous technical, rocky descents, dancing over slimey roots and popping the bike around steep, rutted corners. Through the water.

Shooting hard along a flat bridleway the puddles got deeper and deeper. The description for the checkpoint was 'stream crossing' but how could we know? Everywhere was under water. Ploughing hard through a deep puddle, the ground suddenly sunk away and I was up to my hips, still pedalling, giggling. Sue screaming at me with a big grin on her face. Then 'whoosh'. the bike swept away and I slid off on my side into the water. I watched my bike tyres float up to the surface and get stuck in a bank to our left, caught by the torrent that was coming from the right, down the hillside... the stream! We found our checkpoint and hurried on through to get back before our time limit was up.


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