The strong gusting winds and short sharp showers that typified part of August were the consequence of tropical storm Bertha on the other side of the Atlantic. At times it felt like the tropical storm was here as it really tanked it down and turbulent winds slammed into buildings and gardens.
Some years ago we were out on the Great Barrier Reef when a different tropical storm threatened. Suddenly, things changed when it was upgraded to a cyclone and it was aimed directly at us. The captain had us packed up and out of there like a shot, and at full speed headed for shelter. Sea-sickness tablets were handed out like sweets although Wifey who (as she proudly stated) has never had sea-sickness declined them.
The full force of the cyclone slammed into our boat and the once placid sea was whipped up into a maelstrom and our boat thrown about like a toy. Anything not stowed was thrown around the lounge area and cabin staff decanted brown paper bags to grateful hands, including much to my amusement, to Wifey who made free and sustained use of the simple facility. I’ll bet she won’t turn down tablets again.
Now it wasn’t that bad here but Bertha did have an astonishing effect on Big Paul, prompting him into replying to a text and an email, both promptly as he sheltered in his Cornish hotel from the storms lashing his resort while overdosing on clotted cream, jam, scones and tea. Usually it is easier to get an audience with the Pope than get a reply, but for once his advice was freely given.
As he hauled his once noble athletic frame, now significant bulk into a suitable position for reaching another scone he issued orders to his troops regarding their weight management, levels of training and equipment requirements for our forthcoming tour. His own appearance apparently belied his fitness level. He was ready for the off and was training hard.
This unconvincing nonsense, did, however, give me the push I needed to start training. I pulled on my disturbingly tight Lycra cycling gear and set off for a practice cycle. After a bacon butty and a call at the pie shop, I was surprised how I quickly developed pace, at least on the downhill sections and pedalled over to my other pal in Dewsbury via the Calder Greenway that (mainly) follows the route of the Rochdale Canal through Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.
He too was keen to offer advice as he packed his mouth with chocolate biscuits and swigged tea as, meanwhile, another sharp shower thundered down onto his conservatory roof. Forget the training and dieting, he advised, just keep out of the rain, maintain your calorific intake, ensure you get enough fluids, and above all, keep taking the tablets. Oh yes, there is no doubt the shambles that is our tour is getting closer now.
Not sure I was any the wiser, I remounted my trusty steed for the return journey home and pondered on their advice as I looked forward to a half-way pint in Hebden Bridge and to consider my pre-tour training programme for the next few weeks.