The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesLincolnshire Again Aug 2014

Home In The Rain

By Ren Withnell

Pffft! What do the weathermen know? The forecast is for an apocalyptic deluge this morning, it's a bit damp. There was a little bit of drizzle last night that's all. It does mean taking the tent down runs the risk of me finding icky nasty slimy things on the groundsheet but otherwise we'll be fine. Everyone else is packing too. Today is the day of the big race at Cadwell Park so after that everyone will be heading home. The gf and myself have all day to travel home at our own pace as we're not bothered about all that racing malarkey.

With everything loaded onto the back of the 125 I haul my ass into the seat and set off with another wobble. It's fine, it always takes me 3 or 4 minutes to get back into the groove of riding with a full load. This CBF 125 is like a mule, it takes a massive load without complaint.

Because we have all day it seems pointless to head straight home. I ponder various options in my head as I ride, I seem to be heading north purely by accident. I know, we'll head up to Grimsby, just for a mooch, just for a look. Maybe we can find some breakfast there too. Pleasant country side roads wend their way through the farmland much as they did yesterday but the skies are darker and heavier. It's not raining though and that's what matters. Maybe, just maybe we can get all the way home without getting a soaking.

Grimsby, have I been to Grimsby before? I can't recall that I have. Grimsby. The name doesn't conjure up a good image does it. Grim - sby, what chance has a place with a name like that? Mind you it's a seaside town, a resort. Maybe it's like Southport or Mablethorpe, Porthmadog or Forres, they're nice enough places aren't they. Maybe we can sit in a warm cafe looking out over the ocean, eating a full English and sipping hot strong tea. That sounds inviting.

I ought to know by now. Never assume or presume or place expectations onto something or someone. Grimsby is grim. On this bank holiday Monday we ride around the empty streets surrounded by industrial units, fish factories, run down no-name carpet shops and semi derelict car parks. When we glimpse the murky sea it is between rusty fishing vessels, cranes and concrete harbour walls. It's not what I'd hoped for, there's no cafe to be found either. I'm probably being very unfair to Grimsby but we don't stay long enough to try and find the nice parts. We both agree let's just get out of here.

Scunthorpe doesn't sound any more inviting. The sarcastic term "Sunny Scunny" comes to mind so this time I'm making no preconceptions. As we come in from the east side we are confronted by a very large steelworks that dominate the landscape and promises nothing of beauty. The town however is remarkable in it's unremarkable character. It's not nice, not nasty, not quaint or run down, it's just a town like countless others. I spot an equally generic Morrisons that promises an equally average breakfast at an equally middle of the road price and that's just what we need. That and some average priced petrol to go with it.

batty the toy bat inside a helmet looking happy pointing toward morrisons
Batty shows us the way to rest and refreshment. He looks happy!

Feeling fed, toileted, fuelled and refreshed we leave the average comfort of Scunthorpe. To complete the normality we follow ordinary roads through plain towns and villages heading east. Please don't misunderstand me, I do not dislike this area and I'm sure life here is as good if not better than the cramped streets of my home town. I guess the problem is we've been spoiled this year with Scotland, Wales, The Peak District and Northumbria. 

I could do with SL's sat nav now. I can follow the route home but it means I have to go through the town centres of Doncaster and Barnsley rather than the much more interesting rural route set by a computer. This being the bank holiday means the business centres are quiet but the shops and entertainment centres are busy. This is transport, this is riding to be somewhere else not the riding of pleasure. I don't mind I've been doing it long enough, the gf doesn't seem to mind she's just thrilled to be on her bike. Except for the silly driver gently passing through a red light. No real drama as we're all going quite slowly, just confusion and bewilderment all around. The gf toots her horn, it's so loud I almost crash in shock!

The roads become more interesting again as we climb up to the hills of the Pennines. It also becomes wetter. How do you know when you're getting close to Manchester? It starts to rain. How do you know you're in Manchester? It's raining. How do you know you've been to Manchester? You're wet. We must be getting close to home as my tyres slither around another bend and a car tailgates the pair of us. I'm weary and in need of a break and I can't be bothered to come up with something original or inspiring, I follow the signs for Holmfirth and find the Brambles cafe bar again. 

Inside we sit on a big leather settee with hot drinks and dripping bike gear. We've been silly and lazy. We both have with us extra waterproofs and even plastic bags for our feet, but we never stopped to put all this gubbins on. We're paying the price now, luckily at this time of year it's not too cold. At least it's not too far to get back home. 

batty strapped to the gf's bike, soaking wet and bedraggled in holmfirth
HA! Doesn't look so blooming happy now, soaking wet in Holmfirth.

Damn. I make the final leg back home a long one. Trying to be clever I take a turning that I think will run us swiftly into Oldham and Rochdale. Instead I take us over hill and dale to the Woodhead pass. This means the confusion of Stalybridge and Ashton-Under-Lyne before we even reach Oldham. This means I'm on the wrong side of Oldham. This means I'm lost in Oldham. This means a convoluted and tiresome town route through to Heywood. This means lots of last minute turns to unsettle the gf as she follows. This means we are both worn out by the time the familiarity of Bury comes into view. And we've still got another 12 miles to do. At least the rain has eased up.

Somehow on this return leg I've turned what could have been an interesting and pleasant ride into a day filled with town centres, traffic lights, rain and minimal countryside. Sometimes being lost has taken us to the most amazing and fascinating places we could ever hope to see. It is only logical that being lost or trapped by a lack of local knowledge will sometimes lead us to places we'd rather not be in as well, you can't win them all. However the gf has been stoic, steady and strong all day which always help me to keep my chin up. It's not been a great ride but we're both safe and well, that's the most important bit.

As for Lincolnshire. I'm starting to like it more and more. And this liking it makes no sense. The most awesome places I've been to in my life are North Wales, Scotland and The Alps. All these places have one thing in common, mountains. So what on earth is there to like about Lincolnshire? There's huge areas of flat land and the hilly parts barely rise and fall. The only answer I can come up with is contrast. Either give it me big, high, angular and gnarly or totally flat. Just don't give me half measures.

Getting There The ride out to Louth and beyond turns out to be a better day than expected.
Dawdle Around Mablethorpe It's a lazy, slow and relaxing day in and around Mablethorpe. Don't call it flat though...
Home In The Rain Ren manages to turn a trip home from Lincolnshire into a battle with towns, cars, roundabouts and traffic lights. It could be worse...

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