After a few hours good sleep, and feeling clean and refreshed, I set off along the banks of Loch Lomond to get a good start, before the bank holiday traffic started to fill the road. Nicky sorted the van out, with a plan to also get started as soon as possible to miss getting held up on the narrow roads that marked the start of the day. The morning was glorious, the sun shining and the Loch looking magnificent in the early morning sunlight. I had arranged to meet back up with Nicky at the other end of the Loch and so I had a good couple of hours steady an easy riding ahead of me. I had a smile on my face, and started to feel optimistic again.
In the company of strangers
I was joined for the first time in days by another rider, Michelle who loved to talk. It was great to hear another voice alongside me, and it was lovely to be riding with someone again. I hoped that she didn’t think I rude, as I wasn’t my normal chatty self. Eight days of this kind of riding just sucks the conversation out of you, and your brain turns to mush. If it wasn’t for the social media page, I doubt I would have remembered the names of anyone I rode with. As it was, I don’t remember much of the conversation if I’m honest, but that didn’t matter to me. The chatter from another person makes the miles go by quickly, even if the responses she received from me were utter gibberish. She rode with me through Dumbarton and on towards the edge of Glasgow. Instead of any scenic routes, we simply stayed on the main road until we picked up the quieter road just past Dumbarton.
Through Glasgow I retraced my northbound route and on this bank holiday Monday the roads were quiet. I was met with yet more riders. Martin, Alan, Ian and young Frazer became my Glasgow peloton and rode with me through to Hamilton, Martin continued with me to the end of my leg and spent the ride asking me about all things endurance related. He had been due to ride the Deloitte Ride across Britain this year, but Covid put an end to that. But he’d been putting in the training, and was super keen to get any additional tips from me. The company made the hours pass quickly, and I finally started to feel warmth in the sunshine and stripped off a few layers of clothing. I was eating well, and my energy was restored. Even the dreaded road following the A74 couldn’t dampen my spirits. I saw the scenery with a new daytime view and it didn’t seem quite so soul destroying.
Eventually, though darkness fell again, except this time I had the fabulous Nicky with me, and she was in home territory as she lived in nearby Lockerbie.
Nicky stayed relatively close to us using the size of the van to help with traffic at junctions, and every time she passed she tooted her horn and cheered us along. Martin the last of the day’s riders continued with us until we reached the services again at Cairn Lodge, where again I filled up with as much food as I could eat, including a massive portion of mac & cheese.
Our goal for the day, was “no sleep until England”.
Like naughty schoolgirls
I was wise to this road surface now, and used the cycle path again, until it also deteriorated. But this time, wearing 2 layers of shorts, it didn’t cause any further damaged to my already tender rear end. The plan was to reach Penrith if possible, although Carlisle would do. I did have to stop for a short sleep, but after that I put my headphones on and sang out loud while I rode, and Nicky drove behind me with her headlights on, lighting up the road, until we finally hit Gretna Green and the border. Wide awake, we giggled at the silliness of it all like schoolchildren being allowed to stay out late. Despite being exceedingly tired, we had so much fun. We were a team, and as they say “teamwork makes the dreamwork”
I’m not quite sure why we took the route to Carlisle via Longtown, but these things happen when you’re tired. Myself and Nicky had somehow ended up with two different routes, but it became clear that it wasn’t the route I had followed going northbound. It added a few miles, but was flat, so wasn’t really a problem. We had left Gretna after midnight, so it was clear that we wouldn’t make it to Penrith. But we had made it to England, and Carlisle was the new target. We settled down in a layby to the south of Carlisle for a few hours sleep.
156 miles completed, but could I get down to Lands End in 2 days and a few hours? I had made it to Lancaster in less than 48 hours, so in theory it was possible, but I wasn’t moving at anywhere near the pace that I started at and I still had a tender rear.