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Pedal Power by Nick Veasey
  • Writer's pictureAnnette Culshaw

We conquered Shap!!!!

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

September 24th 2018

I woke this morning tired and over-emotional.. (read tired, tetchy and weepy!) I really did not want to face another 50mile day. My ideal cycling day is about 35 miles with tail winds all the way, and the constant 50 milers are taking their toll.

However, no option but to carry on. A strong and blustery northerly wind meant we would be cycling into it all day long. It is hard cycling and very cold.

How the mood changed! Leaving Kendal we were straight onto climbing Shap Fell, an iconic climb for LEJOG cyclists and much discussed. 1,790ft above sea level and a 14 mile hill with gradients of 10%. Well, we (and our fabulous bikes), nailed it. It was such hard work but a joy nevertheless. We climbed, and climbed and climbed again coming onto bleak but dramatic moorland.

Shap Fell.. 14 miles of climbing (Pic from internet.. not me or Bob)

Our bikes were truly wonderful. For both of us it would have been impossible with ordinary bikes. Oxygen.. we thank you!

Shapp Fell, bleak and windswept

The rest of the day was a joy. Quiet roads with no stop and start... just riding into a landscape that is magnificent. One of the long, long roads resembled the scenic railway at Dreamland in Margate or the Big Dipper at Blackpool. Terrifyingly steep descents followed by horrendously steep ascents. The only way to get up them was to scream down the descents, hoping the impetus would carry you up part way to the top. Mile after mile of these. Thankfully they were all relatively short but it was taxing. Had we had a tail wind we would have flown it.

We arrived at our hotel in Carlisle at 3.30pm instead of the normal 5.30-6.30pm arrivals to which we have become accustomed. It was the fastest day to date. Brilliant... we could actually relax before dinner. The first thing we do when we arrive is to look for accommodation for the following night. Guess what? It took from 4.00pm to 6.30 to find accommodation. There is precious little accommodation to be had up here. We have had to change our plans.

So tomorrow, if we planned to cycle another 50 miles there was absolutely nothing around our route. The only available accommodation was either at Lockerbie (25 miles away), or Carnwath (75 miles away)

So, we decided that we would have a short day tomorrow - 25 miles to Lockerbie, and the two 50 mile days thereafter. Hopefully we will have chance tomorrow to catch up with some laundry and some bike maintenance and maybe to relax a little before carrying on with 50 mile days afterwards.

We had some fabulous news today. John and Shirley are travelling up slightly sooner and will meet up with us on Wednesday night at Symington. It will be truly wonderful to see them and will ease our travels no end. We will be able to offload much of the pannier weight into the car and will have a sense of security that has so far been missing. It will also be great to have their company in the evening,

Kendall to Carlisle.. note the climb up Shap Fell right at the start and the short sharp switchbacks on the final descents on the right hand side

Day’s Mileage: 51.22m Total mileage to date: 604.74m

Day’s climbing: 2,444ft Total climbing to date 25,504ft

Tomorrow we reach Scotland... about bloody time!!!

With love,

Annette & Bob

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