We felt fresh as fresh as Daisy the pantomime cow; Ed, Kate, Phil and I left Paris sleeping (we didn’t want to wake her) and hop scotched over to Leeds station, led by Ian, who takes a laid back approach to his cycling on his recumbent bike. Today was an unofficial and slightly impromptu fancy dress affair, with Andy Fallon dressed as Darth Vader and Matt Senior wearing a massive afro wig. Not to be outdone Kate Brown donned her star spangled leggings, I slipped into my Timmy Mallet shell-suit jacket and Ed wore a codpiece (either that or his bum was sorer than we thought).
Hester was our birthday girl, so Miss CoBi gave her a little present between the thighs and we sang the more conventional happy birthday. We followed this with about 17 verses of ‘Ilkley Moor Bar Tat’ and attempted ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’, but we got stuck somewhere in the treacle.
Not that we were tiring of the conversation, but we took a vote and unanimously agreed that a radio would be a useful addition to the bike… I think everyone had visions of us zooming up hills listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’. Argos was kind enough to donate a little shower radio, but the thing about little shower radios is that they are little and belong in showers… If we stopped the bike and cocked our ears we could make out what was either lady Gaga or ET making a phone call home. More often than not it just provided shower sound effects.
I can’t say Huddersfield was beautiful but leaving it was, and as we climbed out of the valley, we entered a landscape littered with skeletons of our recent industrial history. Dark satanic mills towered over the hills, criss-crossed with canals and patchworks of railway lines knotted about ominous houses made for Heathcliff and Kathy.
Coming down from Sadleworth Moor Ed and I made a slight error – we both take full responsibility but I blame Ed entirely. Somehow the brakes were left locked on as we speedily descended and the result was;
a) We slowed down considerably on the flat
b) Several riders commented on the strange smell of burning
c) I saw smoke
d) I realised the brakes were on fire
e) We stopped
f) We poured water on the breaks and they sizzled for 5 minutes
There is only one way to get over such a disaster, and that is to visit the village of Uppermill on Yanks Day. Basically the whole village goes back in time to the 1940’s and pretend they are in war-time England. Literally everyone dresses the part, and most of the men have a replica rifle slung over their shoulders, while the women drape foxes round their necks. Little army jeeps zoomed down the street, and pubs spilled out with jiving and jazz. The only downside was the two men who had opted for SS uniforms… It’s good they’re supporting the tourism industry by holidaying in Greater Manchester but Harry and William really should know better.
As we rolled into Manchester a strange phenomena occurred; the sun came out. This is most unusual for Manchester which like Mordor of Lord of the Rings fame, it is most often enveloped by dark swirling clouds of doom. It seems as we approach our half-way point, someone, somewhere, is smiling down on us.