We finally got on the bikes at about 9.15am the camp site led us straight out onto a busy road and a lone cyclist pedalled past us, once we had managed to get across the traffic we followed him for about 5 miles, finally catching him and overtaking him on a rise up towards a large traffic island on the A6 - unfortunately we got our exit roads mixed up and by the time we'd sorted ourselves out the lone cyclist guy had caught up and gone in front. A short while later as we cycled into Lancaster we spotted a camper van with a 'Help for Heroes' banner. It turned out to be the cyclist from earlier. His name was Mark and he was doing LeJog with his girlfriend Jackie as his support. We got chatting and felt good that he had started out a day earlier than us. Our pride was short lived - it transpired that he was alternatively running a marathon one day and cycling the next - his cycling days consisting of 13 and 14 hours in the saddle to make up for the short mileage on his marathon days! - Bloody Hell!!!! - Well done Mark.
We left Mark and Jackie enjoying a well earned breakfast and sped on through Lancaster which we thought had an excellent cycle friendly town centre. Our next target was Kendal and we can see the outlying hills of the Lake District. A sense of fear and consternation dims the conversation as we contemplate what lies ahead.
|Gary with Graeme & Ola|
We leave them and get back on the road, we're almost in Kendal now and our next challenge will be Shap Fell - one of the testing hills we need to negotiate on this stage of the trip. We weave our way through Kendal, the 'Auld Grey Town' so called because of its many grey limestone buildings. I wonder whether we should stop to buy some Kendal Mint Cake to fortify us for the toil ahead, but decide not. We carry on.
In the days before the M6, drivers heading to Scotland were forced to negotiate the treacherous climbs of the A6 over Shap Fell where they could experience all types of weather. They nicknamed the area "The Jungle", and the infamous Jungle Cafe was founded there in the 1930s. This was the principal route to Scotland from the western half of England until 1971 when the M6 finally bypassed it, because of the devilishly long climb (and descent when coming home), many vehicles didn't make it, particularly during winter. There are a number of vicious bends and this was (and is) a legendary piece of road to many. Gulp!!!
Suddenly we were there, slipping into the lowest gears possible and grinding our way upwards - it was a case of just trying to turn the pedals, just keep going, try not to look at how much further to go and suffer!! - Soon it seemed we were up it - I thought it wasn't too bad but then I realised we hadn't really started - the initial effort was just a precursor to the real climb just around the next corner - and it was tough - 1400ft upwards over a 15km stretch! - at least the weather was good though, the sun had remained with us and it was so warm I had to take off my helmet as the heat and sweat became a problem. Up and up we went, legs burning and breathing hard and heavy - and then we were there! At last, the summit!!
After a brief pause we set off for Shap Village - this was going to be easy, a descent, not much pedalling needed and a chance to clock up some fast speeds. But then the weather changed. Suddenly the sun and warmth was gone. Now we were riding in hard rain and hail, the temperature had plummeted - we were freezing and soaked. We rode on hoping to get through it, finally we paused between Shap and Penrith to seek refuge in a bus shelter - we stood there grateful to be out of the rain but literally trembling with cold - we had to remind ourselves, this is June, it shouldn't be like this!
|Enjoying the fire! - The Beehive|
|Back on the road - Penrith|
|Made it to Scotland!!|
Cabus to Gretna - 91.34 miles
Max Speed: 38.5mph
Time on bike: 6hrs 47 mins
Calories used: 4585