Day 5

Today was going to be a real battle for survival. Only 107 miles, but they included the Lake District. Therefore the pressure was on from the start to make a decent total before stopping for lunch. The first 40 miles were flat and taken at the usual measured pace we have got used to of late. In fact by the time we stopped in Lancaster after 2 1/2 hours, my bike computer told me we had been stationary for a mere 13 mins. Van stops were few and far between, and comfort stops hastily taken in hedgerows.

Lunch would have been a convivial affair in the Crooklands Hotel about 9 miles short of Kendal, except for the minor problem that 3 of the extended bunch had taken a wrong turn. True, the instructions did say to take the A6070, but it was very easy to stay on the A6. Therefore the Cannock Three had lunch in Kendal, and I personally haven't seen them since. I think this is the day when the group really started to fray at the edges, the pressure of the unrelenting mileage really taking its toll.

Kendle would have been nice, I guess, were it not absolutely log-jammed with traffic. We threaded our way through the queues and were soon struggling up towards Shap. The tail wind we have enjoyed pretty much uninterrupted since Land's End become about Force 8. Sails would have been good, but sadly we had to push the pedals. We regrouped momentarily in the minibus, but we could see that rain was brewing, and with so many miles yet to complete the hotel was beckoning.

There was another partial regrouping in Penrith, but this time the peleton was down to just five, and the pressure was on to knock off the remaining 30 miles and get the day done over and done with. The biggest surprise of the day for me was Carlisle. What a town! To me it's always been just a place you drive through on the M6 (it has four Premier Inns!) but that really does it an injustice. The centre of town is simply jaw-droppingly awesome.

Mileage - 107 miles. Time in Saddle - 6:41. Av speed - 15.9mph.