Monday, 25 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 8 - Gretna to Muirkirk

Miles - 68.44
Cycle Time - 5hrs 27mins.
Total Time - 7hrs 52mins.
Average Speed - 12.56mph

After back to back big mileage days the cyclists were excited at the prospect of a sub 70 mile day. The mood was further improved when the riders were greeted with bright sunshine and not much wind, just a pleasant Sunday spin on the bike. Sunday is traditionally the day of rest, and I was going to stick to that and so took it easy at the back of the line and treated it as a recovery ride.

The girls greeted us with Bacon sarnies from the Gretna B&B afer 28miles and with the short day that was almost half way. The roads were quiet with it being a Sunday morning and bikes definately seemed to out number cars. We did see one Moped, but he was pushing it along like a skateboard down the hill, I'm not sure if his motor was broken or if he was on some fuel economy drive.

I did feel abit guilty chilling at the back, so did a stint at the front. I was much more disciplined than usual and the group stayed together. I felt fresh and when we pulled over for our next stop the guys told me we had been going uphill, but it felt pretty flat to me.

We met up with the girls just before 50 miles and everyone was buzzing at the prospect of an early finish, perhaps a record early finish. So fed and watered we headed up a good climb straight after lunch. The news coming through from the girls who had driven ahead of the riders was that there was a road closure. The B&B in Murkirk had warned us of a road closure, and Joe had felt he had understood the message and rerouted us, but the roadworks weren't where we expected and the only way to avoid them was to take a 40 mile loop diversion.

The riders were unimpressed to put it mildly, and as we went past the road closure sign the pace slowed significantly, nobody wanting to know what lay round the next corner. The miles kept ticking by with no blue flashing lights telling us to go no further and the troops started to fantasie that the workers had gone home it being a Sunday. This seemed unlikely when a guy in a soft top mercedes who had passed us earlier headed back towards us a smug grin on his face. He had obviously been turned away further up the road and wasn't keen on telling the cyclists what lay in store for them.

Finally after 3 miles our nightmare became a reality another road closure sign loomed large, this time maintenance vehicles and maintenance men blocked the path. The cyclists discussed options, looking at fields, rivers, paths for another way to get through. Pete was keen to point out whatever we got up to the bikes had to come with us, making wadding through cold rivers with a bike held above our heads even less appealing. Thankfully the girls had charmed our Scottish Maintenance Workers and sorted us out an escort, we had to wait 20 minutes for them to come back but it beat the hell out of a 4 hour diversion.

So off the riders went an excited mood in the camp at what they had avoided. The convey was travelling at 5mph, unfortunately a small change of direction from Luke lead to Dad's front wheel meeting Luke's back wheel and down Dad went. I was behind the incident and so got a front row view and was helpless as Dad headed roadwards. Cue expletives, showing me that Dad was infact alive if in no small amount of pain. Joe gave Dad's bike the all clear and Mum gave Dad the medical all clear and thankfully the Maintenance convey let us carry on the 3 miles to the other end of the roadworks.

We waved the maintenance men off and made the short journey to the Old Church B&B which was a beautiful place. We were met by our attentive host who showed us round the attractive converted Church. The only downside being there was only the one shower to go around our group of 8, 5 of which were stinky cyclists. On the plus side the shower did have about 5 showerheads, some of which sprayed water into some rather interesting places. Finally showered and presentable we went downstairs to enjoy our Chicken stuffed with Haggis followed by a Chocolate dessert. Then to bed early in readiness for another day in the saddle.

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