If yesterday was eventless and hassle-free, I made up for that within two miles at the end of the day. I was cycling along, having just noted to myself that we’d passed the 500-mile mark, just after arriving in Scotland. Obviously, the thing to do is to start singing the Proclaimers’ “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more”, replacing “walk” with “ride”. But suddenly, I hit a stone with my back wheel, which gave out a bang, a hiss, and a rattle as the rim hit the tar. Dang – only three miles to go. So out come the tyre levers, the spare tube, and a quick change.
But just as the wheel was about to go back on the bike, there was another bang. This time, we checked the tyre a little more carefully, and discovered a gaping slash in the tyre from the stone. The result when inflating the tube to 80 psi is that the tube stuck out through the gash, and when it burst, it actually blew a piece of the tube clear off. Never seen that happen before. My punctures usually happen in a more T.S. Eliot sort of way. So, we used a double section of the tube to try and patch a hole in the tyre, and used our other spare. That lasted precisely two miles, when the rough road took its toll on our patchy repairs, and the tube burst again. At that point, with just one mile to go, I put “walk” back in the song, where it belongs, and trudged into Langholm begrudgingly.
Up to that point, though, it was plain sailing. Shap Fell turned out to be a lot easier than we expected – while it was long, and steep, it wasn’t *that* long, nor *that* steep. Team A were up & over in just under an hour (Team B haven’t revealed their time). From there on, it was an undulating downhill run all the way into Carlisle, where we spent about two and a half hours. There was a spot (close to the main bus stop:) where there was plenty of sun, and a suitable bench, and we parked there for about an hour. Then followed a walk through the streets, a nip into Costa, and another break to devour the goodies we’d purchased. As Team B turned up, we upped and left. The last twenty miles to Langholm went flying by, apart from the last three.
By the way, Langholm is a lovely picturesque village on the banks of the Esk river. Really nice. As is Clifton (apparently renowned for being the site of the last battle on English soil, way back in 1745). As are a number of other towns which are starting to merge together as the days go by. There’s the village where the Nursery and the Nursing home are next to each other, leading to (I’m sure) some interesting misallocations, with potted plants and pitted old ladies getting sent to the wrong place. There’s the place with the lovely smooth main road, and the other one where the village itself was beautiful, but the road surface so rough you barely noticed it. I’m realising now that I should have taken more thorough note of what was going on, so that instead of a blur, I’d have an accurate record of events. I’m hoping that staring at a map when I’m home will bring it all back long enough to write it down.
Speaking of maps, here’s the one for today. Again, I neglected to switch on the GPS until I’d reached the top of Shap Fell, so that bit is missing (you’ll have to trust me on that one – although I did have witnesses to the final part of the ascent, as the two cars went past just as we hit the top).