Day Five – Preston – Gretna Green 95 miles including Shap

After porridge and coffee (we learned our lesson yesterday) Elka (Darren’s wife) dropped Darren and I off back at the place on the route we’d left the bikes (where Darren works) – a huge thank you to Elka and Darren for making me feel so welcome in their home.

We were on the road by 8-30am which basically followed the A6 from Preston through to Carlisle and I’d eventually push on to Gretna. The road from Preston was fantastic, in good repair and very few hills so we made fantastic progress well in excess of 20mph on the flat. Darren was suffering with his bottom but more worryingly his achiles :-(

We knew that Shap would be in 45miles and so took a coffee break in Kendal where Darren rested his heel on an ice pack which wasnt doing much good. Just before Kendal I got a puncture in my rear tyre but luckily it had slime in so self healed itself. I blew it back to pressure which it lost some of but I decided to continue anyway and it made it to Gretna (I replaced the tube later that evening).

It was soon onto Shap which is basically a 14 mile climb that’s dreaded by cyclists – I’m so glad I did all those really tough climbs in training as they made shap seem easy – I really enjoyed it and danced my way to the top like a Contador (without drugs). Darren meanwhile was struggling with gear selection problems. When we got to the summit we were met by my cousin, Keith Bradley who had come to ride with us to Carlisle then retrace his steps. In Penrith Keith diagnosed Darren’s problem being a cracked outer gear cable caused by the bar bag positioning so we found a bike shop in the town who agreed to change it straight away. I told Darren I wanted to push on so I could spend as much time as possible with my young children before they went to bed which he fully understood – thanks for the company Darren and good luck with the rest of your ride. So it was just Keith and I racing down to Carlisle and we came across 2 youngish lads on road bikes and I was up for a race – I got one (fairly easily) but could only get on par with the other – I later found out they too were doing LeJog but in more days than me and had the smallest bags imaginable. I pushed on up to Gretna where I got Claire (my wife) to pick me up to stay at the outlaws caravan in Ecclefechen.

Great day, great weather, great company and relieved to see the family and…. I NAILED Shap!!!

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