VCB Lakeland 100 – It never rains, it just pours…
Well we left Wakefield at 10.30am sharp in the pouring rain for the 80 mile jaunt to Kendal. We stopped off in Settle for a spot of dinner and to wring out our clothes around 12.30pm. Back into the rain and onto the scoots for 1.30pm and arrived wet to the pants at the Kendal Rugby Club around 3pm. Things didn’t improve. Due to the weather, some had already gone down the B&B route so there was plenty of space, tents up in the rain and then to the bar for a chat and a beer. A quick walk into Kendal for a few more early evening and then rather surprisingly the sunshine made a welcome appearance! It was brief though, so back to the rugby club for a few more jars before bed.
It’d be fair to say it rained a lot during the night and was still at it in the morning. Bit of breakfast and a cuppa before the ‘shall we shan’t we’ debate regarding the 100 mile ride ahead. It was decided that as it was only drizzling now, we’d head off on the first leg of the ride and have lunch before another afternoon in Kendal. Anyway, 10 minutes into the ride and the almighty downpour came. Wet to our pants again, we decided to press on. A closed road, a quick spill on a roundabout and a petrol pipe change later (Ray carried a spare) and we were still at it and getting wetter. As we approached Honister pass it was raining heavier than I have ever experienced before; it was of biblical proportions. The hill-climb and the hairpins were at best very scary and had to be approached with extreme care. At the top of the pass was a youth hostel and a café, so a brew and a pie was a welcome break from the weather but over far too soon. By this time severe weather warnings were in place and safety was now firmly in our minds. We had no choice but to press on through the road-rivers and debris which the floods had brought.
Eventually I picked up a sign for Keswick and managed to get us back to a major road (still road-rivers only wider and with no sheep on them). We covered 45 miles back to Kendal where we were met by our flooded tents, soaked clothing and drenched sleeping bags. The rain never even paused for a second! This was the final straw and left us with no option but to pack up and go. Frustrated and deflated, we loaded up and went for a final warm drink before saying our goodbyes. Three hours in the pouring rain would have been a pleasure but much more was to come! After five miles or so and on the busy A591 the trusty GTS gave up the ghost; waterlogged I guess. Anyway to cut a long story short my fav aunty Carole Nash said she’d send a very nice man with a recovery truck to pick up me and Ange. That was at 6pm and after several games of eye spy and a few star jumps and still in the pouring rain I thought I’d give a follow-up call just to check the progress. Luckily at 11.30pm a pal and his wife (Graham & Haze) were passing on their way home from Lancaster and kindly went miles out of their way to get us a warm drink and a whopper burger and let us sit in their car to get warm if not dry. Eventually at midnight the very nice man and his recovery vehicle turned up and we were on our way again.
It was a real shame the weather didn’t play ball as Kendal and the Lakes are a fantastic part of the UK. It did spoil the occasion but not the weekend, as time away with your pals is priceless. Between the rain a brill time was had by all, the banter and support was priceless, and we’ll be back to do it all again and more next year… rain or no rain! Cheers.
Paddy ‘Pat’ Gough Dirty Mills SC and Wakefield Cog 99 Photographs: Jon Northey