Day 6 (feels like 26) and we’re in Kendal. Guest riders today are Sean and David from Roland.

Our mapping software tells us it’s fairly flat today, so 102 miles should be a doddle. As the title above proves, it wasn’t flat and as I sit writing this on my seventh pint in the pub next to the….Premier Inn (oh yes!) I can safely say that I am absolutely shattered.

Nothing to report about the Premier Inn in Kendal, as it’s the same as the one in Dumfries, Dumbarton etc but the staff were particularly helpful. Laundry was the highlight of Rose’s evening (BIG thank you) and ours was an Italian restaurant. Terry spent the evening parking the van: quite brilliantly too, it has to be said.

The following morning, grey clouds greeted us as we looked out of our Premier Inn windows to remind ourselves where we were: only 102 miles to go to the next Premier Inn.

Leaving Kendal was slightly more challenging than necessary, with Lewis doing a spot of shopping as the rest of the group headed south. We managed to meet up again a few miles later, but it was extremely inconvenient balancing Simon’s shopping bags on our handle bars.

The first 20 miles were a little too much up and down for that early in the morning and spirits were a little low at the first 20 mile stop. At least it wasn’t raining, but those of us nursing injuries really would have preferred to be lounging in bed. No such luck. The injury list grows by the day, current highlights include:

  • Simon and Peter – bottoms like baboons
  • Jules and Tim (that’s me) – various painful knee problems
  • James – Double knee crisis
  • Peter – very sore hands, clearly missing doing the washing up

The Griffiths brothers amused themselves today with some spectacular ‘drafting’. Neil selected a combine harvester and sped behind it allowing the slipstream to carry him along. Simon selected a muck spreader and cruised along in its wake. I think that I slip-streamed a couple of snails on a day trip to Leyland: it certainly made my day.

We stopped in Leyland for lunch with Ruth’s rolls doing frantic business. The normal high quality fare was topped off with extra cucumber and malt loaf. We also get jelly beans and chocolate. Lunch is the only positive thing about cycling I can currently report. I’m sure I’ll feel better about it next week.

Guest riders Sean and David rode superbly well today. For two guys who had not had much time for training, to pull a 100 miler out of the bag was pretty impressive. Sean made various attempts to join the Bladderettes, but sadly didn’t make the cut.

I also felt a little sorry for David, who after being abandoned by Jules on a long hill (since hooking up with Simon, he’s just not getting this team thing) took the wrong turn and had to be rescued, a broken man, on the side of the road. Jules, how could you?

Riding as a team or in groups requires incredible concentration. Cycling demands not only massive physical exertion, but also huge mental stamina too. In the interests of health and safety there are a considerable number of spoken communications and also hand signals. I’ll have to leave the hand signals as some are unprintable, but here are some of the repeatable spoken words.

The obvious ones like, ’slowing, stopping, gravel and clear right’ probably need no further explanation. Here are some others:

  • Car Down – car coming towards you at great speed
  • Car Up – driver late for hair appointment very frustrated
  • Lorry Up – red or yellow?
  • Sh** in road – droppings on road
  • Hole on left – large hole that council have not bothered to mend
  • Gash – lots of holes in road
  • Cyclist ahead – either James or Lewis in the distance
  • Man down – comedy fall
  • Man off back – Tim’s at least a mile behind
  • All on – back on the chain gang
  • Coming thru – the Griffiths brothers, normally at speed
  • Pit stop – No 1 song for the Bladderettes

Arriving at Crewe was an enormous relief. 100 miles is one heck of a long way and it takes forever. One or two of us had thought we might not make it, so to get everyone home was a real tonic.

Tomorrow Gloucester, I hope!

Roadside News

  • Comedy falls: Sean x 2
  • Very large flat fox
  • Jules puts his foot in it, yes a large pile…