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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Day 4: Manchester - Gretna Green

Following a good bit of rest and recuperation at home - hats off to the chef - it was on to the roads of Lancashire for day 4. Seeing the forecast I knew there would be rain pushing up from the south during the day so I made a bid to outrun the weather!

View back towards Manchester at the start of the day
The initial parts of the day's riding were all on roads that were very familiar to me so made the going that much easier. First of all it was over Belmont to my Mum's near Preston, a route I have ridden many times. The initial 15 miles was mostly uphill but I knew that they would be followed by a good bit of descending.

Stop off at my Mum's near Preston for a second breakfast
After a bit of refuelling and a quick catchup I was back on my way and heading up through Preston. Again, this is a route I had done many times when I was at university in Lancaster and I figured if I could manage it as an unfit student on a mountain bike I shouldn't have any problem with it now!

Exiting Lancashire at around the halfway of the weeks riding
I was soon off the A6 and onto the lanes skirting around Lancaster and a few small climbs. Upon entering Cumbria I had reached a good landmark of halfway for the week and it was a good psychological boost. There was still the climb of Shap Fell looming though and I took a late lunch in Kendal under a gathering gloom.

Foot of Shap Fell as the skies started getting greyer
After wolfing down a pot of pasta and a sandwich I set off up the climb as the rain finally caught up with me. I knew it was a long steady climb so I settled down into an easy rhythm and with the rain not getting too heavy I was able to make it to the top before donning my waterproofs for the long descent.

Top of Shap Fell
Following the climb I knew there were no other major challenges in the day as I left the A6 once more and found some quieter lanes. On one straight lane I was passed by a tractor and by cranking up my effort a notch I was able to slipstream along behind it (at a safe distance of course) at a decent 25-28mph for a good four or five miles!

Beware - Red Squirrels!

Before I knew it I was in Scotland and despite a persistent drizzle I wasn't too wet as I reached my accommodation in Gretna Green. It had been a good day's cycling although upon climbing the stairs to my room I noticed a bit of pain in my left Achilles tendon that would become more of an issue over the remaining days.

Nice to see Scotland put up a sign just for me!


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