I no longer know what day of the week it is. I just wake up and ride my bike. I had to be repeatedly told that today was day 5, which means we’ve gone over half distance and are bearing down on Scotland at a rapid slowness.
We left a relatively toasty Haydock Park (11 degrees!), and turned right out of the race course. And immediately stopped. And then turned around to head left. That apart, it was probably my favourite day so far, with the urban sprawl of Wigan and Preston giving way to rolling countryside and fantastic views as we meandered through the B roads past Lancaster, up the Lune valley, and climbed through the Lake District.
We got into a group of 6 very early on today and shared the work, with familiar places from holidays passed zipping by as we were able to maintain a decent pace. Everyone quietened though as we weaved through the Kendal traffic and headed up the 9 mile climb of Shap Fell. Not a tough one in terms of gradient – only topping out at 9%, but the 23 degree heat (I know! In Cumbria! In mid-September!) made it feel like a very long drag.
The group quickly splintered as other Alex & I rode off the front and the views just kept getting better as we climbed towards The summit. The fields either side teamed with sheep and soaring buzzards circled ominously overhead, but the most impressive sight was probably the RAF Tucano suddenly bursting out from from of the valleys and barrel rolling over our heads.
Eventually we reached the top and began the long descent into Penrith. A nice wide road meant you could keep up a steady 35 to 40 mph as we shot through Shap itself. By this time I’d caught the same chap who’s wheel we’d followed toward the end of yesterday’s ride and we cruised the final 25 miles into Penrith.
Tomorrow’s crossing into the People’s Republic of Scotland promises to be an psychological boost as at least we reach the final country, but if I’m honest I don’t know how far we’re going or how much climbing there is, I’m just going to get on my bike and ride.