Runcorn to Kendal 82.61 m. 5h49m14s. Average speed 14.15mph
Total so far 447.16m
It was great last night meeting up with Fiona B. who has been working here for the last 2 months. She was happy to show us the giant chimney stack where she works, on our way to Frodsham for an excellent meal. This morning's breakfast however was not so good because the hotel did not get their milk delivery. That didn't affect Churchill or the Saint who missed breakfast altogether but the others had to make do with what they could get.
Everybody was a bit jaded today. The aches and pains were beginning to catch up with us. Both Brace and the Wobbler now have sore knees, whereas for Churchill and Cling On it is easier to list what doesn't hurt!! It was not hilly today but the wind had turned. The majority of the day was spent riding into a headwind. It was much colder than usual and intermittently there was driving rain. It was much safer getting out of Runcorn than getting in and we soon crossed the Mersey and on through the very busy areas of Widnes, St. Helen's and Ormskirk before heading towards Preston. We cycled through Preston in torrential rain but our Landlady this evening says it is not much better in bright sunshine.
Churchill was so tired today that when he was cycling along a cycle lane he was totally unaware of his surroundings, and had a near miss with a cyclist coming the other way. They had been approaching each other for at least half a mile but he failed to notice him at all. They missed each other by inches! Did he get away with it - Oh Yes!!
It was a good to see Lancaster which seems a really nice city, before we crossed into Cumbria and headed towards the lake district. We were still generally at a low ebb, partly because we had been told we had much further to ride than we really did - they just do not put mile markers around here. In desperation Cling On asked at a petrol station and found out that we only had 12 miles to go (about 10 less than we thought) - as we left Brace shouted to the attendant 'I think I love you' but received a very bemused response.
We then saw the River Kent and followed it as it gently wound it's way into Kendal. Churchill led them directly to their B&B where we were met by Yvonne, a bubbly German lady who insisted she would have been called Brunhilda except for a quirk of fate!!
Kendal is a delightful town, and we have just had steaks all round with 3 bottles of wine and desserts for about £60 - astonishing prices once you start getting further north.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to getting into Scotland but there is the small matter of the Lake District hills to contend with first.
We are now about half way!!!
Kendal to Thornhill 96.72m 6h50m44s 14.13mph average
Total so far 543.88m
The Wobbler has been room sharing with Brace and today he let us all know what it was like having a Sikorsky helicopter in his room - not that Brace's snoring was affecting anyone else. Ox's snoring however has been described by Cling On as like an epileptic hippo.
One thing we cannot generally complain about so far is the weather - and today has been no exception. We awoke to bright sunshine and although it didn't last all day it did least stay fine until we were out of the Lake District. We had one of the monster climbs over Shap Fell and Ox had a mechanical problem halfway. The others had to wait for 10 minutes at the top and got very cold in spite of the sunshine.
At the bottom on the other side we stopped in Penrith at a Sainsbury's cafe. Brace hobbled across the store which was huge. When he arrived back his knee was quite swollen from his effort. He had walked across the store to find a toilet and came back to find it was in the cafe all the time!!
The next town was Carlisle which took forever to traverse because we got caught by just about every traffic light. We had a plan to get to Gretna by back roads but it was difficult to find so the Wobbler stopped at a motel to ask. After some trouble we worked out where to go and the receptionist's face lit up when the Wobbler said we had been staying in their motels along the route - travelodge. Unfortunately we were standing in the reception of a Premier Inn!!
We crossed into Scotland and then headed West to Dumfries - into a howling cold head wind until we finally reached our destination of Thornhill and a welcoming coaching Inn.
Were we pleased to see it - Oh Yes!!
Thornhill to Dumbarton 83.9m 6h2m37s 13.89mph average
Total so far 627.78m
WET, WET, WET!!! is the only way to describe today. Torrential rain all day - until it got really wet! I have been drier swimming in my wetsuit!!
It all started quite positively with the Wobbler getting everybody going with his deadlines to departure then a photo shoot with the Saint (with us sheltering under the tailgate of the van).
The first 20 miles followed the Nith valley which is beautiful even in the rain. It didn't take long to reach our lunch stop in Kilmarnock, but we were already getting a bit cold. We had to cross some verges to get onto the road after checking some directions. I have never seen anyone bunny hop over a foot high railing before. I still haven't!! Ox McQueen tried and failed and ended up in a heap on the grass!! At least he wasn't badly hurt.
We piled into Asda for a bite to eat and basically just dripped everywhere. At least we warmed up a bit after fish and chips all round, and at that moment the Saint appeared with the offer of dry clothes. Cling On and Ox had been riding with shorts and at least Cling On took the chance to dress more warmly and more dry layers were added by several of us. Yet again generous members of the public gave us spontaneous donations to our charity (Help for Heroes).
The afternoon was tricky for lots of reasons - not only was it wet, windy and cold but we were heading for the Erskine Bridge to cross the Clyde. We wanted to avoid going too far into Glasgow itself so we went a scenic route which was harder to find as many junctions were not signposted. This slowed us down so we became wetter and colder still. We finally reached the Bridge when we realised that Lord 'Cling On' Lucan had disappeared. Wobbler and Brace went back to look for him and we had just got the Saint out to help look for him (while Churchill and Ox were sheltering from the rain in a garden centre) when he finally appeared. He had 2 punctures, but with the rain and traffic noise, nobody heard his shout and only realised a little way down the road.
Once we were back together we were freezing cold and shivering and our combined brains had completely turned to mush with the result that we tried to cross the bridge on the main carriageway to the great annoyance of all the drivers. Once the tailback was about a mile (Half way across) we had to carry our bikes over the crash barriers and onto the cycle path (which was officially closed - hence our mistake). It was a lot safer on the path.
With light failing we finally reached our B&B, to find they had a problem with the hot water. Churchill and Cling On ended up with cold showers but at least we were out of the rain. Luckily the limpers (Brace and the Wobbler) managed to sort out their water and later it was available for all!!
Were we happy to finish today? Oh Yes!!
Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.
David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!
Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.
Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!
Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!
Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes