We were surrounded on all sides by the kind of color that is sort of unsettling. A deep, almost surreal green, changing slightly at different distances, pulsing as we sped past on our Royal Enfield motorcycles. Color that makes you question your sobriety. "Am I seeing shit?" The motorways - with their many lanes, seventy-mile-per-hour speed limits and culture-free Costa cafes are decidedly different than the crazy colorful place we had found ourselves. Petrol stations dot either side on the 'M,' and the 'fast lane' is to the far right, other than that you might as well be in Ohio if you stick to the motorways of England. But here, on this two-lane road, twisting and damp from a recent rain through the northern part of Yorkshire toward the Lake District, was different. It looked like I had done some sort of psychedelic drug. And that was alright with me.

England countryside
A recent rain left the road and surrounding countryside damp and colorful.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

I really don’t like rain. Or being wet and uncomfortable for hours on end. Who does? So riding around England in August (or ever) was a dumb idea. I know this. But I am also someone that’s willing to sacrifice quite a bit of comfort for an experience I’ll remember. Someone that is willing to trade wet feet for good fun. I am also from Seattle, so rain is something I am accustom to. Which is also why I hate it so much.

Rain clouds in England
Sometimes the simplest roads are the most beautiful...English countryside at its finest. But looming in the distance, the ever growing grey of rain clouds awaiting our arrival.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

If you’ve been keeping up with our adventure, the last time we talked we were in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in a town called Hardraw. Having ridden from the ancient city of York into the forever-green English countryside - surrounded on all sides by simple stone walls and white sheep - we stayed at The Green Dragon, an inn that was suggested to us by David at Adventure Spec (among many other wonderful places, so thanks for that). Our plan upon departing Yorkshire was to head west into the Lake District – another National Park known for, yea, you guessed it, lakes – and then north to the town of Keswick where we would see a circle of stones that were supposed to rival our visit to Stonehenge.

Pit stops and photo ops in England
Pit stops to pee turn into photo-ops for Kyra who is typically on the other side of the lens.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

From what I could tell during our rather brief time in the area, the Lake District and the various villages within, is similar to many of the boutique, bedazzled, booze-cruise types of summer getaway towns I’ve been to. Trendy but quaint, with cobble stone streets and Tudor styling. I guess you could say it’s the English version of the Hamptons. Expensive, popular in the summer, but beautiful, so you should probably see it. We had intended to spend some time up there. Our friend Derek had suggested it, as did David (see above) and a drunken Englishman at a pub in Portsmouth who told us to skip Stonehenge and see this circle instead. But aside from the beauty – and believe me, there was plenty of that – I was a bit unimpressed with the area. Too many of the types of things that spell Tourist to me. Small shops with silly pillows embroidered with something like “Keep Calm and Drink Wine.” Too many restaurants and not enough pubs. Too many people. So when it started raining, I was kind of glad. Maybe it would rain hard enough that we would turn back, call it quits and find somewhere full of large bellied English blokes ready to drink warm beer and mumble wonderful stories.

My wish was granted…

England on Royal Enfields
When the rain came, it came furiously, slowing our pace and limiting our ability to take pictures.Photo: Justin W. Coffey
Touring England on motorcycles
The last shot before the camera went back into the tank back.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

Growing up in Seattle you see rain differently than most citizens of the States. Rain is a constant in one way or another from September to June. Drizzle is daily and a downpour never lasts very long. But it’s always wet. And so are you. And everything you own. So when it started raining during our ride, as it had a few days before, I anticipated that it would pass rather quickly… as it had before. Wrong. When the rain came, it came with no compassion. The drug induced green I had been so enamored with before was now a smear across the windscreen of my helmet. In front of me was a dark grey slab of concrete with no defining lines – bordered on both sides by stone walls - and a woman, who was also on a Royal Enfield, riding out ahead, with her head turned down in a desperate attempt to keep the rain from getting inside her jacket. It looked as if we were on the inside of an impressionists painting. Big brush strokes, blurred lines, but glorious color and confusion.

How to dry wet shoes.
The hairdryer in our room was a lifesaver. Riding the next morning with dry feet was fantastic.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

Over the headset I asked: “You still want to see this stone circle?”

We decided against it. We also decided we should get south as soon as possible, where, according to the internet, it was warm and dry and the sun was shining. A stark contrast to our current condition.

You brought a rain suit, right?...

Lake District in England
Seems like it all looks the same, but when you’re riding through the Lake District, it’s all eye candy.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

Someone asked a few days after we had landed in London. We hadn’t, and like so many dumb ideas I have had, I figured I could just work my way out of it – “it” being the weather, more particularly rain. So here I was, riding through a torrential downpour in Northern England, wearing a leather jacket and jeans, soaked through on all sides. You can’t work around the rain… but you can outrun it!

We rolled on the throttles of our Royal Enfields, kept our heads down and hit the infamous ‘M’ headed due south toward salvation.

If you’re unfamiliar, riding in the rain at seventy-miles-per-hour is not only uncomfortable, it is also dangerous. As evidenced by the lack of images included with this update, we spent our time and energy trying not to die – the last thing I want is to be run over in England by a Lorrie. If it’s going to get me, make it a Mac Truck, or better yet, a Peterbilt.

Twisty roads in England
These are the kind of roads that keep us up at night, twisting into the distance, unadulterated.Photo: Justin W. Coffey

This is all sort of unfortunate, honestly. The Lake District, for all its faults – mostly things I don’t like about people and places, nothing really to do with the area itself – is amazing. I wish we would have stayed. Probably should have seen the stones. But alas, our itinerary was adjusted and we soon found ourselves in the small town of Chester. We pulled into an inn, peeled off what was wet (everything) and proceeded to dry things with the hairdryer hanging in the closet. Hot showers, warm socks and dinner came next. We took our time the next morning. Dragged our feet, drank coffee, ate avocado toast and then turned our bikes back toward the motorway – our next stop was South Wales.