Friday, 12 June 2009

Day 3 - Great Strickland

A restless night of sleep was broken by daylight and the first question was raised by Jon. "What are these beds made of, crisps?" He was referring to the noise they made when anyone turned over. We'd all slept in our clothes with hot water bottles to battle the cold but it was the noisy beds that had kept us awake. So much so that when one person got out of bed to go to the toilet the noise started a relay of runners to the toilet. Despite the crisp beds spirits were high and the team look forward to a cooked breakfast - of sorts. For £3 a head the team had been able to buy eggs, bread and beans for breakfast - to be fried of course!

There was no bacon because there wasn't a fridge but there was a selection of yogurts and cereal for those who wanted it. Team Chef Jon cracked (excuse the egg pun) on with the cooking as the team of four monitored their own mini grills to cook their toast. Once filled with breakfast the team washed up and readied their bikes for the day ahead. Setting off down the soft track it wasn't long before there was another fall. John falling sideways down the hill, a really unspectacular fall but a fall none the less. Three down one to go...

Neil was again having problems with his gears and as the team reached a tarmaced track after an hour it was over to Spanners once again. It was slow progress with only 3 miles covered in that first hour. However Martin at the YH had promised downhill all the way back to the C2C route and that soon materialised. The team were now travelling at 25mph and covering distance fast. Before long they were back on route but with this due to be the hardest day there was no time to rest on their laurels. Cycling on they knew their target was Penrith for lunch. An important target for John who always liked to know where his next meal was coming from.

It wasn't long before Team Pannier were again cycling along side other C2Cers. However the team didn't take long to mention they were doing it the hard way, still no other cyclists seemed to have panniers. It was as Penrith got nearer the team passed under the M6, a real milestone in their journey across the country. On entering Penrith the team found a local chippy and soon tucked in to a hard earned lunch. With that done it was quick errand time while in civilisation. Jon nipped to Boots and John nipped to a bike shop to get some more brakes. With the previous days efforts taking their toll on his bike John's brake pads were totally worn away. Of course it was Spanners who helped fit them as well as giving Jon's bike a quick once over. It was soon back on the road and Rich and Jon seemed a lot happier. Mainly due to the fact they had joined John and Neil riding commando.

Riding out of Penrith there was a loud screech as Rich's heavy bike hit the ground right in the middle of town. With a girl laughing loudly it was his pride more than the scrapes on his leg that hurt. Needless to say he wheeled away quickly. Leaving Penrith the two Jo(h)n's headed out up a steep hill with Rich and Neil following behind. It was soon pointed out we'd taken the wrong route. The two Jo(h)ns had followed Route 7 and not route 71. Having not done any map reading they were none the wiser and it was only twenty yards to get back on track. With a good lunch inside them and having passed up on the beer and whiskey chasers the team were powering ahead. Within no time 10/15 miles were covered, stopping only briefly as they came back parallel with the M6. Neil's gears were still not right "you can fiddle with them until the cows come home you'll not get them working". Well that's was just red rag to a bull as far as Spanners was concerned. As everyone topped themselves up on Jon's sugary Maoam sweets Spanners sorted Neil's gears once and for all.

Riding on they came to a little place called Great Strickland which happened to have a pub serving the team's favourite Jennings. Jon and John riding on past the pub were called back by Neil and Rich. Thinking it was a strange time to stop for a beer they reluctantly cycled back to find Neil and Rich pouring over the map. Sure enough route 7 was the correct route out of Penrith. The Jo(h)ns had accidentally taken the right route and Team Pannier had now ridden 10 miles off route. With the team now off the maps they had with them they gathered around a tourist map posted outside the pub. Feverishly taking notes Jon, Neil and Rich plotted a route back on course. John then popped in the pub and appeared moments later with their own copy of the tourist map. No notes needed.

By now the team had drawn attention from the pub and the scouse (we assume) landlord came out. He was not surprised by our predicament and said they get loads of cyclists ending up there when they shouldn't. With a route back to the C2C from the landlord we got on our way. Going over rolling hills and then climbing in to the woods. "Nobody said it was easy" sang the Team Jukebox as Coldplay seemed the order of the day.

Pushing on ahead John cycled up the steep hill in the woods and stopped to wait for the others as he reached some gates at the side of the road. Soon to be joined by Jon they spotted what a nice track it was the other side of the fence. "It looks just like a holiday village" said John. By the time they'd been joined by the others the penny dropped, Whinfell Forest said the sign, we're at Center Parcs! Loaded up on more sugary goods the team headed on, down a steep hill with Rich reaching a heady 44.2mph. As the team pounded away on their pedals the miles to Penrith came down. Getting back on track was demoralising, seeing Penrith 6,5,4 1/2, 4 miles. Team Pannier really started to motor determined to get back on route as quick as possible.

Around 5 as the football scores came in the team finally got back on track. Stopping at a pub for brief refreshments there was still no sign of beer as the team had learnt from the lessons learned the day before. Knowing they had a long way to go the team phoned loved ones and then set out again towards the biggest climb they had faced so far. There was a long way to go, leaving the pub behind after 5. Had they kept on the right track they would have been in the same position two hours earlier. It was then up and down, up and down, Team Pannier cursed every downhill knowing the height they had just gained had been wasted. At 6.30 the team started to climb with a feeling this was it, this was the hill. With the knowledge that there was a cafe at the top of Hartside but it was now closed did not help. The start of the climb was tough, straight up, with only a bit of winding road to hide the summit. Coming round one corner, there it was, the cafe, not in front of us but high in the distance. The team stopped to regroup and take on supplies. "Shall I take a look at the map" said Neil. Mistake, big mistake. With the time now at 7 and a lot of the climb plus many more miles to go Neil was desolate. "I'm worried we'll not make it we'll die of htpothermia" said Neil. "Don't worry" said Jon, "we can stop in the next village and get accommodation there". "But we did try there" Neil replied, "and it was all full". Jon then took the map and predicted we'd be at our destination by 9.30. Wishful thinking the rest of us thought. John reassured Neil he would get him there in one piece, installed as team psychologist and masseur he would get Neil's legs working again in the morning.

So the team started again on the hill, the road switching back on itself many times ahead. Cars making slow progress themselves in the distance. A camper van passed with empty bike racks on the back, each member of the team thinking to themselves about hitching a ride. As we climbed the road was not as steep and the wind picked up - in our favour. Pushed on by the wind we made quicker progress than we thought and reached the summit to see a welcome sign "Cafe Open". Sadly the joy was not long in our minds as it was clearly shut. Sheltering from the wind behind the cafe we put on extra layers and got out what food we had. Oatcakes, houmous and a pack of crisps. Devoured in seconds we were soon on a houmous high if there can be such a thing. Knowing we had another big climb left to go there was talk of one person going on ahead and the food order in at the pub near our accommodation. With no one feeling up to the task we motored on "they'll be an all night garage we'll pass" said Jon thinking we were heading in to London.

The ride down from the cafe was 4 miles of the best pick-me-up the team had had. Averaging 25mph the team soon swallowed up the miles. Suddenly there was a belief we'd make it in time to put our food order in. Arriving in Garrigill the team passed a pub, cyclists squinting out of its window in to the low sun. Pressing on Team Pannier knew they had one more climb before bed. Not wanting to make the same mistake of stopping before the end as yesterday. Turning the corner they hit a wall, a shear climb out from Garrigill to Nenthead. With all legs tired there was only one option, push. So the team pushed for an hour up a shear hill as the sun set behind them. Passing them were three cyclists, the first they'd seen on the road for hours. Stopping to chat the (pannierless) cyclists told of their challenge, the C2C and back in three days. "Yeah but they haven't got panniers" the team said when they'd gone. With daylight gone the team reached the summit a little after 9. With Nenthead lit up below them they brake squeaked their way down the hill. The noise got a local's attention and he gave directions to the two B's, bed and beer.

Arriving at the Nenthead Mine Museum, site of the night's accommodation, the team found the bunk house locked up. "She said she'd leave the keys on the table" said Rich relaying his earlier conversation with the lady running the place. "But she didn't say which table or where". Luckily a local neighbour had a spare key and sure enough, locked inside on the table was our key. A quick shower and turnaround was suddenly greeted by some other cyclists coming back from the pub. "They're still serving food", "someone just ordered a pizza as we left" they regaled. The team were down there in a shot but sadly to no avail. The kitchen had stopped serving. So Team Pannier sat back and enjoyed a beer, watching Match of the Day and eating 6 packs of crisps, 5 packets of pork scratchings and a packet of nuts. Bon appetit boys. Not quite making it all the way through MotD team Pannier headed by torch light through the freezing cold air to bed. With shared accommodation it wasn't the best night sleep with snoring and any movement keeping the team awake.

63.80 miles today, 111 miles now covered in total. 12 Hours 41 mins on the bike so far. 8.6 mph average

No comments:

Post a Comment