Monday, 10 May 2010

Stage 4 - Somewhere South of Warrington to Penrith

I don't want to say it's grim up North

But today, we were up North, and it was pretty grim. The temperature had dropped about 10C overnight, so the 4C ice warning bell was going off in Dave's car. A band of rain had settled across the Liverpool – Manchester area, making our route of Warrington, Wigan and Preston somewhat wet. The towns themselves were lovely – clear cycle lanes, considerate drivers and light traffic.

Oh, hang on, I must have drifted off for a moment there.

The towns themselves were hellish. Busy, confusing, dirty, traffic lights every 50 metres, one way systems that made no sense and bore no relation to our marked route and lorries that were having a “closest to the cyclists” competition. The ambulance won, a mere 3cm away. We did have a slight amount of fun in the pedestrian precinct of Warrington, but I do mean slight.

Sponsors – you got your money's worth today.

We stopped for coffee, partly to get out of the cold, and partly to meet Dave M's Dad. It was great to see him and the hour stop gave us a chance to get some more clothes on.

More riding, more North. Dave M had picked up another visitor for lunchtime – Gavin Baxter, again great to see him.

Then Lancaster. We got lost in the one way system and broke several traffic laws trying to escape. When your marked route goes over a bridge, and the bridge happens to be one way (the wrong way), do find yourself cursing road planners. The same lot had been at work in Kendal – it took us three laps to escape.

Finally, the big climb of the day – Shap Fell. 10 miles of distance, up to 1400ft. There was snow on the surrounding hills. Jon took the mountains jersey, beating Phill over the top. We were all pretty tired by this point – the top of the climb was almost exactly the 100 mile point of today's route. It was more or less downhill from there to Penrith, where we ended today – another 115 miles done.

Scotland tomorrow. It's got to get warmer at some point surely...
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