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My Wettest Ride Ever

by Richard Rosenthal

… Well, not quite, but certainly on a cyclemotor.

The Plot

On the Thursday preceding 1987’s NACC run at Stowmarket I was visiting a friend:
‘What are you doing on Sunday?’ he asks;
‘Riding in a cyclemotor run at Stowmarket’ says I;
‘Riding to the event?’ responds Ian (he’s a purist);
‘But of course, what else?’ replies a Mark 1 fool.
‘You’ll never make it.’ says Ian, quick as a flash.
The plot was sealed.

Having ridden this particular machine to Southam in Warwickshire the trip to Stowmarket, a mere 55 miles, seemed nothing more than a quick blast up the road.  Some of us live in a real fool’s paradise, don’t we?

The Plan

Leave home at about 7:30am, ride the trip to Stowmarket on the GT model Cyclemaster, partake in the run and meeting.  Then phone Elaine to transport myself and machine home—easy eh?

The Day

Rode to Stowmarket, no trouble, enjoyed the run so ably organised by Jane and Andrew Pattle, attended the meeting.  So far so good.  Then against better judgement was coerced by various friends to ride home on IT.  Thanks a lot, one and all.

The Sting

Phoned my wife Elaine on leaving Stowmarket:
‘Riding home’ says I,
‘Raining here’ says Elaine.

Only a few spots at this end so set off on my way.  Sped off up the slip road onto the A45, pulling wheelies (well I’m allowed a little wishful thinking).  Then the heavens opened, within a couple of miles the road was covered in massive puddles, often many inches deep.  Oh, the spray from the heavy lorries was a wondrous sight, slightly less wondrous when it was deposited on you.  Through this lot the Cyclemaster kept on running—if only it would have drowned, stopped running and I could have retired and dried out.

Reaching Kennett, I espied that haven of all lunatic and very wet cyclemotorists, the Little Chef.  Oh to stop, phone for transport, drink hot tea and dry out a little; but this was not to be for Doug and Stan’s car and trailer were already in the car park, so on I pressed (I couldn’t be seen to be defeated, could I?)  In another 10 miles the Ely turn off from the A45 hove into sight, up the slip road, through Fordham which in the wet seemed an aptly named village.  I stopped in a farm gateway to fill up with petrol, a quick shove and away we went.  Wretched two-strokes always run better in the damp—it sure was damp.  The last real drama occurred at Streatham roundabout just eight miles from home.  For the first time in the journey I needed to stop quickly.  I had become so resigned to the rain that I had forgotten it, brakes were applied in anger and nothing happened.  A ghostly figure loomed out of the semi-darkness on a rapid cycle-type thing, dived between the heavy traffic (well, what else could I do?) and disappeared onto the fens; raising as it went the roar of many car horns; ignorant lot these motorists in their centrally heated tin boxes.  Another eight miles of motorised paddling and the welcome lights of Earith appeared, what relief; not once in the two hours and twenty minutes of the journey had the rain eased at all.

A hot bath, the odd brandy or two … and the world began to seem a better place; even the Cyclemaster after a clean and oil seemed no worse for its adventure.

First published: February 1988

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