Day 5 Glenridding – Coppull (Chorley, Lancashire).
75 miles. But I apply the Swedish Rounding System; 80 miles
There comes a time when you decide to do something epic; a physical, sporting challenge far greater than you have done before. Something that you know isn’t going to be easy, but one you want to see if you’re physically and mentally capable of putting your mind and body on the line for. I knew that this was my time… as I got up at 5am to ride with Jane to Chorley.
Of course, I’m not talking about me, but Jane. I said I’d write a piece for the blog and I promised to give her a mention. She just got her mention.
What Jane has taken on is not only ambitious but involves a tremendous amount of effort. Climbing those three summits is almost a side-show to the hundreds of miles she’s undertaking to get between them. On at least three days she’ll tip the odometer over 100 miles. Today we’ll ride for less than seven hours, and in glorious sunshine. She described riding in the heaviest rain she’s ever ridden in, just two days earlier.
We stop throughout our ride for little snacks; it’s all Jane can manage, and she struggles to get the calories in that she needs for the day. It’s not something any of us can really appreciate how hard it is to fuel the body when you have restricted capabilities to eat.
Jane doesn’t want sympathy, she’s just happy to ride and enjoy her days on the bike with a smile and a laugh. She’s great company and a wonderful demonstration of putting self-belief and the determination to succeed into positive action. Chapeau!
Glenridding: Why leave?
Dave Banks, one of the few remaining of the Kendal AC species, picks me up in his campervan from Windermere. Dave was due to ride, but he’s torn his calf muscle at the weekend. Instead he’ll be hanging out at every layby, kindly offering us three riders cups of teas and food. Having picked me up Dave drives to Glencoyne Bay on the shores of Ullswater where we find a very relaxed Reedy family getting ready to set Jane off for the day.
Jane’s planning style is to be admired; she rips pages out of a road atlas which are very approximately marked up in pink highlighter.
Jane, myself and Richard (Hazel Robinson’s brother-in-law and third member of the pedalling team) add our own thoughts and adjustments to the route and the schedule. My main concern is how frequently we’ll stop to feed and how far away in Dave’s support vehicle will my chocolate brownies and chilli sandwich wraps be, at any given point in time.
Tess and Matt join us on the tandem for the first section and it’s all smiles and laughter as they plug away on their bike, taking the challenge of Kirkstone Pass full-on with Tess providing much amusement, joking around with no hands on the handlebar. They reach the top not far behind us and I’m glad I don’t have to watch their terrifying decent back into Glenridding as we continue our way towards Kendal (where Jane lives).
Heading home: Kendal
I test for chinks in Jane’s armour: “We could stop at More? bakery for a quick coffee in Staveley…” It’s not happening. Jane even avoids cycling past the end of their road, just to put the temptation out of her way.
Our first stop is in Natland where I thought Dave Banks said that there was ice-cream. Turns out he said a ‘nice green’; as in, a grassy area on which to stop. Anyway, I stop for a pee before Natland and nearly miss the turn off. Not funny as I’m already quite tired and didn’t appreciate having to do a lap of the green.
We scoot along through Carnforth and on towards Lancaster, waving at Miss Milnthorpe, aka Wendy Dodds, who’s in traffic going t’other way. By the way, for anyone with a liking for 50 tonnes of campervan and motorhomes parked on display forecourts, look no further than a holiday along this stretch of the A6. You can smell the lavender and granny talc.
Garstang: nice town, weird person
We ask Dave to find us a bucolic little spot in Garstang, similar to the one in Natland, for our lunch stop. He’s pulled onto a garage forecourt on a busy junction of the A6, but he’s got mugs of tea and ice-cold cans of Coke ready, so the location is quickly forgotten about.
We’re approached by the battiest person we’ll meet this week. She’s in her 60s and just goes straight into a ramble about what we’d advise her husband, of a similar age, who’s got a bike he doesn’t ride, but wants to cycle from Morecambe to Bridlington? She doesn’t really want to hear our thoughts, as she quickly heads onto her concerns about him dropping dead, and not leaving much in the will as there’s also an issue with his pension. Her advice, because of course she thinks we’ve asked her for it, is that he should walk the ups and walk the downs as they’re dangerous. I suggest he walks the flats too, leaves the bike at home, and calls it a ‘walk’. My actual question really is who wants to go to Bridlington?
Before we leave Garstang behind, I should tell you that it is proud to announce it is the world’s first Fairtrade town. All three of us spotted that sign. Any questions?
Preston: So attractive with all those green, yellow and red colours
From Garstang to Preston there was little of note, save me getting left behind on the M6 roundabout at Preston because I got through the lights, went for a pee in the bush and didn’t see Rich and Jane go past. I’ll never learn. Richard should get a mention here because he did nearly an hour on the front of the peloton going into a bit of a head-wind. I did thank him afterwards and explain that I wasn’t sure of the way or I would, of course, have led. He pointed out we’d be on the same road, the A6, for about three hours and it wasn’t going to change. I mumbled something about the cross-winds.
I read that Preston wasn’t much bombed in the war. Draw your own conclusions as to what that means about the central area of Preston. Suffice to say Jane’s anecdote was fitting: “A friend dropped me at the hospital in Preston and said she’d go do a nice bit of shopping whilst I was in treatment. She came back pretty quickly and reported there weren’t any nice shops.”
As we pulled up at the 34th set off traffic lights which were on red I realised that Preston didn’t have a Latin motto, so I came up with one: sicut negotioationis luminaria faciemusi, which roughly translates to, “Ooh, we do like a traffic light or two, and we’re ever so proud of them.” Preston isn’t the only culprit, Beetham to Lancaster is littered with them. Rich genuinely thought there was a statistic about Preston’s traffic lights. I imagine it’s that there are more per km2 than anywhere else in the northern hemisphere.
Talking of red lights, and call me a snitch, but Jane jumped a red light on her bike as we cycled through Kendal. It was only a small red light, but I felt obliged to let Dave Banks know. He’s a retired policeman after all and might need to press charges.
Charnock Richard: Is it as posh as it sounds?
Rich deserves another mention for his enthusiasm and optimistic friendliness. It was he who engaged in warm conversation the batty woman in Garstang when I’d have wound up the window and driven off. And then he goes one better: we three pull up at another red light just outside Bamber Bridge on the A49 and are precariously positioned on the front line with a massive articulated lorry on our inside lane. I suddenly realise Richard is chatting to the driver in his cab, some four or five feet above our heads, asking the lorry driver how his day’s going, where he’s off to and so on. Funny guy. I like him.
Cuppell: Just the tonic
We arrive at the Cuppell home of Alison & Darren Fishwick, a kinder and more generous couple you’ll be hard pushed to find. I’ve barely collapsed onto the grass verge outside their house before Alison is bringing me a gin and tonic, made with Cuckoo Gin, a local spirit from Chorley and very nice it was too.
So, you’ve read my blog about Jane’s ride today. I went home to sit on the couch, eat fish and chips, and watch the 16th stage of the Tour de France. Jane is going to get up tomorrow morning and cycle another 100 miles. She’d already done a 100-mile day the day before she met me and Richard. She’s putting in huge efforts each day, and more impressive given what she has gone through.
Please support her by donating to her Virgin fundraising page.
Please support her by riding and running with her on any of her remaining days. She would be very appreciative.
Write up – Ben Abdelnoor. Photos – Dave Banks