Stats for the day:
87 miles in two parts: (i) 30 miles at 11.5mph before the bike breakdown - see below; (ii) 57 miles at about 14mph afterwards - still on schedule (result!)
Arrival time at Premier Inn Chorley - 9:30pm
Total ascent 4,850 feet
Maximum speed 44mph
Calories consumed - loads - starting to lose interest in this stat. I thought I’d lose weight on this ride, but I’m eating so much that this isn’t happening. Standard routine: 1) fill bike bag with food; 2) pedal furiously for 25 miles; 3) eat all the food; 4) refill bag with food and repeat
Saddle sore status: back down to 3 for Andy (regime of Lanacane for preventative, Sudocrem for treatment is working well). I think Charles may have got to Hoss level by now, mainly because he has worn away his saddle and is sitting on a metal saddle stem
Unprovoked small dog attacks - 2
Flies ingested - 17,500 (est)
Difficult day. Big climbs, unbroken sunshine (so high risk of dehydration), a headwind and quite a lot of miles. To cap it all, we had our first major mechanical setback today. Early on in the ride Charles’ bike (a classic Peugeot “Hovis ad” model from 1947, weighing 30 Kg) started to groan, squeak and rattle more than usual. Quick examination revealed a broken spoke, and the beginnings of a wheel buckle. Ten miles further on, we found another broken spoke, and the buckle looked more pronounced. Decision time as we reached Sedbergh: carry on and get it fixed in Chorley or bite the bullet and get it sorted straight away. We decided on the latter.
Rewinding to the start of the day, it was a late start as we had to check out of the hotel, pack the car, load the bikes and then retrace our steps to Temple Sowerby. By the time we waved goodbye to Steffi and Cara, who started their morning with a picnic breakfast next to a playground (see happy Cara above) and then headed off to shear sheep and milk ostriches or something similar, it was nearly 10:30. The early miles of the ride were punishing, with a climb to 1,200 feet above Orton. On the way up we met and had a long chat with a local cyclist. I was quite chuffed that we had caught him on the climb, as he looked quite professional, was obviously fit and had a great bike. Turned out that he was having his “climbing out of the saddle training day”, and was attempting the steep incline in a ridiculously big gear. Not recommended for those without titanium-sprung knee joints. Once we joined him he chose a sensible gear and wanted to chat all the way up. Bit of a stretch for lungs already struggling with the job of keeping the legs turning the pedals!
Charles was struggling on manfully with a bike that isn’t set up for steep climbs at the best of times. The gearing is suited to flatter road racing, and when you pick it up it feels like the tubing has been lined with lead. You have to use the “clean and jerk” weightlifting technique to get it on the bike rack. With the broken spokes the power transfer was worse than usual, making all the climbs harder than ever..
After the bike breakdown in Sedbergh, and having recovered the bikes to Kendal, we spent a couple of hours at Askew’s cycle shop, where the guys worked feverishly to fix the Peugeot. Another gold rosette from www.steffihey.co.uk (to add to the one for Redmoss Hotel - see comments on days four and five) goes to Askew’s.
So it was about 4:30 by the time we resumed the ride, and our target of Chorley, nearly 60 miles away, was daunting. We headed into Lancaster on NCN6, which was very scenic, but has clearly been designed by a former winner of TdF King of the Mountains. I’m convinced it’s quite possible to get from Kendal to Lancaster on a fairly flat route, but NCN6 manages to climb about 1,500 feet. A lot of this is on 1 in 5 sections; time for low gears and out of the saddle. A special mention for a lovely couple who live in a town just north of Lancaster - think it was Warton - took pity on us and came out with some iced water and gave us directions. If you’re reading this, thanks, you were great. People generally have been fantastic all the way down. They want to know everything about the ride and the charity.
About 8 or so miles north of Lancaster we found a canal with a cycle path running next to it that promised a smooth, flat ride all the way into the city. Turned out to snake all over the place, going out as far west as Morecambe before heading back towards Lancaster. It also has low bridges every 800 yards or so, always on blind right hand bends and with a cobbled surface. Designed by the brother of the NCN6 designer - sadly detained indefinitely in Rampton because of his insatiable desire for watching cyclists plunge into canals. The towpath also played host to small dog attack #2, this time a pair of yappy little terriers clearly put there by the path designer to get those few cyclists who survive the bridges.
All this was very picturesque, and I’m sure we’d have appreciated it more had it not been for the pressing need to get to Chorley. It was now getting towards 7:30 and we still had 30 miles to go. So we accepted the inevitable and joined the A6 out of Lancaster for a spell of what we call “progressive cycling”, which basically means going as quickly as possible and not stopping.
Steffi and Cara turned up outside Garstang so we could refuel for the final push on to Chorley. They are doing a stellar job in the support vehicle: always turning up at the right time, there when we needed them when the bike broke down, yet still finding the time to do some vacation stuff too. Today they managed to shoot across to Grasmere to buy some of Sarah Nelson’s world famous gingerbread, a real favourite of mine. That cheered me up.
We finally made it to Chorley at about 9:30, and let out a roar of celebration. It was a massive win for us to keep on track despite the things thrown in our way today. Over half way now! 536 miles ridden, 23,500 feet ascended. (Worryingly that’s only half the supposed total ascent for JOGLE - there are a lot of feet being held back for the last two days in Devon and Cornwall.)
Tomorrow promises to be an easier day, average distance and fairly flat. Charles’ wife Laurice and 5 year old daughter Serena are coming to Shrewsbury to meet up with us tomorrow evening, so everyone is looking forward to that. Cara has been missing her friends in Claypole, so it will be nice for her to be able to play with one of them.
To view pictures of Day Six click here