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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Day 5: Gretna Green - Callander

The weather forecast for day 5 wasn't promising and I awoke to find the conditions exactly as expected. The forecasters had predicted persistent heavy rain all day and as I had no reason to doubt them I put on two pairs of waterproof overshoes along with my winter jacket and waterproof jacket over the top. There is a saying that there's no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothing so I was hoping the more clothing I wore the less chance it had of being wrong!

First of many breaks in a bus shelter
The day started off along the B7076 which follows the route of the A74(M) which means that although it isn't the most pictureque of routes it the gradients never get too steep. The road is also relatively quiet although it does seem to have more than it's fair share of lorries going up and down it.

I'm sure someone will know why this is in Scotland

Whilst I kept dry for the first hour or so the rain got steadily heavier and soon other than my torso, which was being kept dry by my two jackets, I was soaked to the skin. Along with the rain there was also a strong headwind which made to going really tough.

Entering Lanarkshire alongside the motorway
The one ray of sunshine was the knowledge that my girlfriend Kerri was going to be joining me a day early. Knowing that I was going through difficulties and that I had tough day ahead of me she had decided to take an extra day off work and come to support me which I was extremely thankful for.

I have no idea why these barriers were on a cycle path
Along the route there were separate cycle lanes which was a good opportunity to get away from the spray and wind-blast from passing motorists. Some were good sections which were part of the old dual carriageway with one lane left for cyclists and a good bit of separation from the current road. Other sections were quite rough tarmac and had gates on them for no apparent reason other than as an obstacle for cyclists!

Cycle path using the old dual carriageway
The road had been climbing steadily up to Moffat but after that took on a more downward profile into Hamilton. It was at this point that I met two other cyclists from Manchester who were doing the LEJoG in 6 days. Apparently they had miscalculated the route and ended up doing 190 miles in one day earlier in the ride! I think with them starting a day later than me they had managed to miss the rain on Monday (my second day, their first) and told me this was their first day of bad weather.

Another view from a bus shelter
Soon after we parted ways I encountered my first bike problem of the ride - a puncture. It is typical that it always seems to happen on the wettest days - something to do with the water lubricating debris and forcing it through nicks in the tyre. Upon stopping in a bus shelter I could see the air bubbling through the tyre though so it was a straightforward tube swap and I was back on my way through Hamilton.

A nicer view from a bus shelter
Having made it around Glasgow I was left with quieter roads but more climbing. First up was the Crow Road which didn't seem too bad at first as I was sheltered from the worst of the wind until I rounded a corner in the road and hit the headwind straight on. Despite a lessening gradient my speed dropped considerably and didn't really rise on the descent as the hills seemed to be channelling the wind straight at me!

Halfway up Crow Road climb towards the end of the day
Two smaller climbs followed but with the wind, the rain and the fatigue in my legs they really were a miserable few miles and I arrived in Callander a sorry state. Shortly after, however, Kerri arrived and we headed out for a drink and a bite to eat which really lifted my spirits. With my Achilles injury not getting any better and more bad weather forecast for the next day we discussed the possibility of lengthening the ride to 8 days but decided we'd see how I felt in the morning.


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