Originally uploaded by Andrew Birkett

Couldn’t find a tea room in Penrith, so got back on my bike and rode the 15 or so miles up to Carlisle. It turned out to be some of the most enjoyable cycling yet. No navigation, A6 all the way. Big wide and pretty smooth road with very little traffic on it. I put Queen on the ipod and rode along having a blast. Only a couple of minor hills but most of it was gentle rolling countryside, gradually spending some of the elevation gained on Shap.
So Shap itself wasn’t as bad as i was expecting. It was good that it was early in the day. I ate so much pasta last night that i felt a bit unwell later! But it was worth it, because the strength which i lacked yesterday was back in spades today. Some extra chocolate after breakfast set me up for the climb. It was raining again as i left Kendal, but today i opted to go without rain trousers since they’re too warm. And i went for summer gloves, again because of overheating. They dry quickly if and when the rain stops. I took it easy up the first two lead-in hills, gradually warming up, but pleased to see that i was already up at nearly 300m elevation. A short downhill leads you round to face the real climb, which is easy to see because of all the lorries struggling slowly to get up the hill! It’s a steady slog to get up to the top, unlike the short steep climbs of yesterday. More akin to Cheddar Gorge than Cornwall. As i got onto the last half mile, the wind picked up and i could feel it actively helping me up the hill. I was so pleased! It was like something out of a classical greek story! A quick stop for a photo at the 425m top, where the weather was horrendous – i took a video but you can’t hear a thing because of the wind.
The descent was a lot of fun, despite the weather. You expend your elevation very gradually, and spend a lot of time at over 30mph. It continues much like that most of the way into Penrith really. I’ve found that i use the elevation feature on the gps as some kind of distance gauge – ie. I’m at 300m now so i have another 125m to go. It’s also nice to know if you’re likely to get a downhill run into town, since towns are usually built on rivers and tend to be low lying.
Given that I thought today would be one of the hardest days, it’s turned out to be not too bad and i’m having a lot of fun!
Next stop, scotland!!

3 thoughts to “Carlisle”

  1. Withnail: We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!

  2. I agree – there ARE tearooms in Penrith…. 😉 To be fair, better ones in Carlisle. (Why didn’t you go to Rheged?!! lol) – Pleased you made it over Shap okay: maybe the key to every tough thing now is to think the worse, have everyone wince a bit when you mention it, and lo and behold, it’ll always turn out better than expected!

    No, wait, am I suggesting that misery and pessimism is the way forward? Okay, just forget that – and yay!!!! You made it through England!! So impressive. (I was telling people about you at work today. And, y’know, perhaps slightly overegging our friendship so I sound incredibly cool by association.)

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