Sunday, 24 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 7 - Settle to Gretna

Miles - 92.35
Cycle Time - 7hrs 39mins.
Total Time - 11hrs 5mins.
Average Speed - 12.07mph

Today marked the end of the first week and by it's end would see us just over the border into Gretna and the start of Scotland. After the struggles of yesterday's century and the showers for the final 20 miles the troops were hoping for a gentle start to ease into another big mileage day, unfortunately Settle was in the middle of the dales and so there was plenty of rolling hills to get through from the off.

After the frantic finish to yesterday's stage, the troops didn't quite have their bearings so asked a passerby the way to the next village. She answered that she was a local, but didn't drive and wasn't very good at directions. So the troops headed up the hill we expected was the right direction, where we duely saw signs for the next village. How she found her way home at night I really couldn't tell you!

We eased into our day and enjoyed the lack of rain, even if conditions overhead were a little overcast. Becky had promised us no rain for the day 100% guranteed. At our first 7.5 mile stop me and Luke watched as some lycra clad speedsters flashed past us, we contemplated why some peope are fast and some people are slow on the bike. Our conclusion was the speedsters Hammer up the hills, and Smash it down the hills. Where as we were struggling up the hills and rolling down them.

The terrain was tough initially but the lack of rain and beautiful surroundings balanced it out. We succeeded in one of party tricks before the second break, namely crashing in spectacular style. Dad's chain fell off and he said not to worry and to keep going which I did, Pete went to help but inadvertantly hit Luke's back wheel and so Pete was on the grass and Luke's wheel decided to lock up after he took a hit. But everyone dusted themselves off, and all 3 bikes were still in reasonable working order and so we carried on our way.

The riders were then rewarded for their slogging up the hill with some rapid descents. So excited were we by the descents that we missed our turning, but Joe soon put us right. The wind had been fairly kind thus far but after a couple of hours there was a 5 mile section straight into the wind which sapped the speed and the morale of the tired troops. Luke was also now stuck in top gear and so we were once again on the hunt for a cycle shop. I was also still running with just my back brakes which was proving rather scary on some of the fast downhills.

The dales are beautiful but very isolated and so bike shops were very thin on the ground. The girls did a great job though and found one in Kirkby Stephen after about 35 miles. The Car Garage come Cycle Shop got to work on Lukes Gears, my front brake pads and also took a look at Dad's gears. We had got there just in time because no sooner had they fixed the last bike then the garage closed as they were only working a half day on a Saturday. Off we went with our repaired bikes, but having gone no further than 50 yards Luke's gears played up again. The guy that had repaired the bike came strolling by on his way home and gave it a quick adjustment and assured us that all was well, before sneaking down the nearest alleyway seemingly desperate to get home for his tea.

The morning's cycling had been slow going a combination of fatigue from the previous days long cycle, the rolling nature of the dales and the headwind in places. But with 3 smoothly working machines and keen to make swift progress we rode well and covered 15 miles in no time, stopping for lunch just outside of Penrith. My energy levels and enthuaism seemed to ebb and flow as much as the hills of the dales, no sooner had I enjoyed the good patch after the bike shop then I started to flag post lunch, I suffered a puncture just outside of Carlisle, at which stage Dad was flaked out on the grass ready for a nap.

Joe was really starting to enjoy his role as lead navigator and was sneaking glances at the map at every opportunity whether he was cycling or not. The fancy Garmin Edge on my stem was now meerly acting as confirmation for Joe's directional nose rather than leading the way. There was one little misdirection on the way into Gretna, the road we cycled in on was new and neither the paper map nore the Garmin were sufficently up to date, but a quick about turn and we were rolling into Gretna Green the Vegas of Scotland.

92 miles completed and just over 11 hours since we left Settle early this morning. Joe has promised us 69 miles tommorow and that will come as a relief after 7 hard days of cycling through England.

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