Kendal to Ecclefechan – 75 miles
Today was the hardest day for most of the team. We thought the hills in Devon were tough. Add in a few very, very long climbs, torrential, driving rain, for most of the day, a long cycle along the extremely busy A6 and you might begin to imagine how tough we found it. Too difficult to stay as one group, we quickly found ourselves in smaller groups. Today’s story was very much one story, there will be many more perspectives amongst the group.
At 17 hilly miles, soaked to the skin and being blown about on the very busy A6, freezing cold, shaking all over, I decided I couldn’t continue the next nine miles to our planned stop in Penrith. Julia and Paula to the rescue and ten minutes later we were sitting in Shap village hall with a hot chocolate and bowl of soup served by the ladies of the local WI and young Jack, one of their grandsons. Chris and Chris, our support team brought the bus and with heating on full blast we accepted a lift to Penrith, ready to pick up any others along the way. We were already experiencing a huge sense of failure that we accepted a lift for those nine miles and so after an hour of warming up, a change of clothes, a few extra layers, with offers of support from Caroline and John to cycle with us, we asked to be driven back to Shap to complete those nine miles plus as many of the remaining 49 miles after that. Far too many miles to really believe we could complete in such awful conditions, so we set ourselves small goals:
- 9 miles to Penrith
- 14 miles until a roadside drink and energy replacement stop
- 15 miles to a cafe break for food, rest and warmth
- 8 miles to Scotland
- 12 miles to our hotel
And slowly, step by step we met our targets. The rain was relentless, the hills unforgiving, the wind much stronger than anticipated, our feet sitting in pools of cold water within our shoes, our clothing soaked to the skin, our hands numb with the cold, we waded through every single tough mile arriving back at our hotel with only a few more minutes of daylight to spare.
All of the group have done every single one of the 620 miles so far. What a fantastic team effort!