Someone is having a laugh somewhere – looking at the weather map, the only band of rain in the UK falls rights across our route for the day – starting and ending almost bang on our start and end – thank-you rain gods!
Following an eggy breakfast (with homemade jams), we saddled up and headed into the rain (but thankfully weaker headwind). After a gentle undulating start we soon picked up the M74 to our side and followed this on very quiet and pretty good roads for the next long stint. Possibly one of my favorite parts was a long, gently sloping to flat section where I could drop onto the tri-bars and just tap it out for around 5-6 miles – think I could get into TT’s. We stopped after 40 miles for a breakfast bap at the Lockerbie Truck Stop – what a group of roughty toughty truckers must have thought of 2 lads in lycra I dread the think – but we timed it well to make sure the loo’s were clear before going in 🙂 . A great little stop off with great, cheap fodder, and a well stocked shop if any supplies are needed.
Original plans were to stop for lunch in Lockerbie village itself, at around the half way mark, but seeing as we had just eaten we decided to press on to Gretna Green to have food there. Gretna came and went and Justin at this point seemed keen to press on to Carlisle for food – I think I was ready for some food but went with the flow. By the time we got to Carlisle I was ready to eat….but it was not to be. We wanted to get a few more miles under the belt so after we had stopped for food we only had 30 miles or so to go – good for the mindset but the stomach was thinking otherwise.
We eventually stopped to eat at Dirty Harry’s Cafe, near to HIgh Heskett – another gem of a find, and a welcome escape from the wind and rain for a while. After a good feed it was back out into the weather and the steady climb up through Penrith, Shap and to the summit of Shap , stopping for a quick photo at Shap Fell Bothy before descending towards Kendal. Temperature at the top, 6oC + windchill!
The Columbia jackets we had on were absolutely fantastic – the hoods were generous enough to fit over the helmet, and they kept us perfectly warm and dry, despite the driving rain and strong winds. The backs don’t come down as far as some other biking jackets, but come down far enough to cover what is needed. Despite my initial reservations on the breathability of the jacket it was more than up to the job, and highly visible on the roads too – a cracking but of kit!
The descent down to Kendal was fun – getting to 50mph with panniers on wet roads there is no time to worry about anything going wrong – just hang on for the ride :). Just before Kendal we were passed by Paul and Martin in their swanky new Audi. They stopped to cheer us on which was a great boost just before we finished for the day.
Tonight’s rest stop was courtesy of Columbia at the Castle Green Hotel. It was almost as though we had planned our arrival as Andrew and the guys from Columbia arrived at the same time as us. It was good to have our Columbia kit on as they saw us arrive! Martin had the beers sorted as we checked in, and after a beer, shower and change we headed to town for food at Native Grill where Martin and Ralph joined us and laid plans for the ride tomorrow. Good good, good banter, good night!
127.4 miles, 9:51:13 moving time, elevation gain 4249 m, averaging 12.9 m.p.h. A wet and windy day!