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On Yer Bike! Update With Photos

On Yer Bike! Update

It is great to report to you all that my Bike ride was completed successfully on 1st June as planned and that I actually even enjoyed doing it as well!

On what turned to out to be a perfect day for cycling (thanks Lord!) I started the ride on the Sunday morning, leaving the Vicarage just after 5.30am. I passed through Preston and continued on to my first arranged stopping point at Garstang, just over 50km into the ride. This was a wonderful part of the ride as I was accompanied all the way with birdsong and saw numerous rabbits and squirrels along the side of the road due to the lack of traffic – I was only overtaken by approximately a dozen vehicles in this whole section!

After a short toilet break (which made me wonder how they manage things like this in the Tour de France?) I topped up my drinks and energy gels and set off towards my next stop at Kendal. The idea was to take this section fairly easy so that I wouldn’t be too tired before starting the long climb up Shap, just north of Kendal. This did not turn out to be the case, however, as I forgot all about the numerous climbs along this part of the route and particularly the long slog uphill just before Kendal itself! This was also made more difficult by the condition of the road on this section as, for large stretches, it was like riding on cobbles and I had to constantly watch out for potholes!

As a result of all this I arrived at my stop just after Kendal a lot more tired than I had hoped I would be but was spurred-on by the fact that I was now over half way in my ride. I also tried to focus on how nice it would be coming down the other side of Shap rather than on how hard it might be to get up it! For those who don’t know, the road from Kendal to the top of Shap is an uphill stretch, approximately 10km long, which gets a lot steeper towards the end of it. I was determined not to stop on this section though and tried to keep ‘my legs spinning’ at a high rate in the lower gears. As if the climb itself wasn’t hard enough, I was further hindered by more ‘cobbled’ road on the way up and then, at the steepest point of the climb, there were even some road-works taking place along with traffic control! Despite my prayers as I approached the road-works they still turned red as I arrived at them, giving me the option of stopping and waiting (which was not going to happen!) or trying to cycle on the other side of the traffic cones until the cars had passed and then ‘popping-out’ again to get passed before the next lot of traffic arrived!
When I made it to the top of Shap I don’t know who looked the most relieved – me or Jacqui – but I now knew that I had completed the hardest part of the ride and now only had another 80km to go, the first few km of which were all going to be downhill!

The ride down Shap was most enjoyable as it gave me a chance to stretch my legs whilst also getting up to some pretty fast speeds on the descent and, before I knew it, I only had another 70km to go! By this time, although my legs still felt fine, my lower back was getting rather stiff from riding in the same position for so long and I was thinking of having an extra stop. As if Jacqui knew what I was thinking I turned a corner and saw both Jacqui and Steve parked up in a lay by just ahead of me – what a lovely surprise! After a few minutes of Pilates in the lay-by – which also provided Jacqui with a great opportunity to get some embarrassing photos of me lying on the floor - my back felt a lot better and I got straight back on the bike and continued to my last stop just south of Carlisle.

This turned out to be a fairly flat part of the ride and it enabled me to settle back into a nice rhythm. After my final stop - and now with only about 30km to go – I was straight back on the bike and I was even glad of the short stops for traffic lights whilst I was going through Carlisle, as each one gave me a brief opportunity to stretch my back a little. Once I was north of Carlisle I seemed to get an extra surge of energy, knowing that there was only about 20km to go and that the last section of the ride to Gretna Green was also on pretty flat roads. With about 5km to go, on what was a nice quiet road, Jacqui and Steve drove about 100m ahead of me providing a ‘rabbit for me to chase’ and making sure that I didn’t take a wrong turning – it even felt like I was in a ‘proper’ bike race! I was jsut waiting for a Motorbike to go past with a cameraman hanging off the back!

We had a brief stop for photos at the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign and it was hard to stop myself grinning as I continued on to the Blacksmiths at Gretna Green where my ride would finally end.

Although I was glad to see the finish point and it was nice to have a good sit-down, I was not anything like as tired as I thought I might have been – a real testimony to how good these new ‘energy drinks and gels’ are at replenishing the energy that you use during exercise, helping you to avoid fatigue!

The total ride took me 8 ½ hours with about another hour for my short breaks along the way. Amazingly I didn’t suffer any punctures or mechanical problems at-all but it was nice to know that Jacqui and Steve were never too far away in the support car had I done so.

A huge thank you goes to Jacqui and my mate Steve as I would not have been able to do this without the support and encouragement they gave me all along the way! A big thanks also to all those who have sponsored me and, at the time of writing, we have raised around £3,000 towards the Development Fund - with hopefully still more to come!

All in all, it was a wonderful day out and it only really struck me on the drive back home (which seemed to take ages, by the way) just how far I had actually cycled. Someone has asked me if I would I do something similar again? Possibly, but maybe I’ll have to think up another type of challenge for next time as it will be difficult to match how perfect a day this had been. Feel free to make any suggestions for my next challenge but, I must also add, that the next one may not be for quite some time yet!!

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