I did a ride around part of the National Water Sports Centre today. Hold onto that name; it’s important later.
There was a rowing regatta on. Teams from all over the country, competing in an event for which they had no doubt trained for weeks or months. People had travelled from far and wide with trailers, boats, other kit, and camped. It’s a big investment of time, effort and money for those few minutes on the water. No doubt the teams had paid an entrance fee, and the regatta organisers had paid a substantial booking fee to the Water Sports Centre.
So when I found there was an admission charge on the main gate, and the back entrance was comprehensively blocked off, I respected that and found another route that didn’t interfere with the regatta. I did briefly come out of the woods onto the lakeside, but took great care to stay on the grass and not to block the tarmac track that runs around the lake, or get in the way of the teams, spectators and support staff.
As each rowing race started, about two dozen bikes charged down the track, keeping pace with the boats, the riders shouting encouragement, coaches checking stop watches, etc. It was fascinating to watch, but I kept out of the way.
I got back to the car, and noticed two bicyclists: a respectable-looking woman of about 45 and her man. They arrived at the blocked off gate - a huge sheet of steel mesh across it, a notice saying “Keep Out, Regatta in Progress”, and a massive padlock and chain around the gate.
The man (who was on a rather nice modern Moulton with monoshock rear and skinny wheels that would not work well on the grass) said cheerily, “We’ll have to go the other way.”
“No,” said the respectable-looking woman of about 45. "The fence is down here, we can get over.
If she had climbed over, she would have been on the side of the lake that was busiest with the regatta traffic.
I offered some friendly advice: “There’s a major regatta on. They’re using the track at the side of the lake. There are huge numbers of cycles and vehicles being used to monitor the races. It’s closed for a reason.”
“They won’t notice us,” she replied, crossly.
I restated my case politely but perhaps a little too firmly.
She turned to her man: “Come on, it’s ridiculous closing the gate. It’s outrageous.” And over the fence they went.
How outrageous that there should be a major water sports event at the National Water Sports Centre!
It’s hard to like people sometimes.