York Cycle Rally: stage 5 (132km)
The homeward trek from an event can sometimes lack that element of expectation so endemic in the outward journey. A bit like going back home after a relaxing holiday…..you go back to comfortable familiarity, losing that adventurous edge of the previous few days/weeks. Not so for me on this homeward venture…….I was looking forward to checking out Selby Abbey on the way down, learning a little about the birthplace of the Wesley brothers (Epworth) and, of course, ending up in Lincoln for the night where I would be welcomed by another Warmshowers host….in this case a family of three.
Poor Selby, always in the shadow of its immensely more famous neighbour, York, its Abbey is frequently overlooked in favour of the Minster just 15 miles to the north. But don’t be distracted. The entry is free, the information boards and guides are excellent, and you don’t have the crowds. Put it on your itinerary.
Now you may not be enthralled by the history of Methodism, but when you pass through a small town in north Lincolnshire that gave birth to two history-changing brothers, you have to take a break and meander the streets. Epworth is situated on the Isle of Axholme, a piece of raised terrain above the level of dykes and ditches that have drained the lands for many years.
As I approached Lincoln, the heavens opened with a vengeance, and I was very happy to eventually find the home of Ben, Ruth and little Odin, who had kindly offered to give me a bed for the night. And there was a surprise in store. Instead of spending the evening predictably chatting about all things cycling (the default setting for most committed roadies), Ruth was taken aback to discover that I was keenly interested in her doctoral research thesis, into aspects of the Spanish Civil War, because we had very similar academic backgrounds, in the field of Hispanic studies. So, instead of having to sit there like a lemon enduring all this boring cycling stuff, she could lead the conversation back to 1930’s Spain, and know that someone at the table was engaged!
But the star of the household was definitely little Odin. He allowed this tired cyclist to sleep his fill in the guest bedroom, and I never heard a murmur from him all night. Ben and Ruth, if you are reading this, thank you all for making me so welcome, and I look forward to the first photo of the three of you astride the tandem!