Awaking splendidly isolated in my palatial double room I pottered about getting my stuff together before heading down to breakfast. The breakfast was fine but ordering was complicated by also having to vote on what was to be excluded from the end-of-trip celebratory meal. Andrew managed to send a bowl of some cereal flying and there were grumblings of faff again. However we eventually managed to all get fed and outside at which point there was a lot of throwing around of newly washed and dried shirts, socks and assorted other garments, fettling of bike-mounts for cars and whatnot. The faff accusers showed their true colours relaxing in sun-drenched chairs while my Dad and brothers decided to Just Go and go we did.
(note that my recollection differs from David's from whose blog I gratefully klep this image)
We had been informed that today's route should be "Practically flat..." apart from "one or two hills at the end". Great! In the beginning this largely turned out to be true. We trundled along in relative idlity scoffing at the layabouts back at the Bull... and a few moments later they passed us.
Things got relatively back to normal then. Andrew by now is famed for his ability to get in "The Zone" so effectively he forgets that directions may have some relevance, fairly early on after a wondrous descent we made to turn of the road only to notice Andrew had decided to maintain forward momentum and chase the horizon. A fair bit of shouting got him back on track, eliciting chuckles and advice from some passing pedestrians.
Next up we encountered a bit of a snag. Our route had a road closure ahead. These are generally navigable to cyclists so don't usually cause a problem. If you look at the strava map below you'll see that wasn't really the case. NW or Richmond you'll see approximately what happened. A driver who'd been up to it advised us they thought we might get through so we cycled on only to find the road, grass sidinggs and all was completely fenced off. We made out way back and attempted to cross the A1 via a bridge but that only lead onto private land. So back all the way it was where we discovered some shit had turned all the signs round. With some exasperation we figured it all out and plowed on.
We reached Peircebridge where the nicest farm and tea shop in the world is. Well I promised I'd say that because they gave us free honey-oatmeal biccies and they had sheeps. Witness:
Oh and Dogs:
We came, we ate, we eventually got going again. D, J, A and M had already bailed to make their way to Durham to pick up Malcom's wife. We took a more leisurely pace out. Once on our way again the weather started to sour we kept on going though and at some point this happened:
No, I don't know either.
This is where it gets a bit messy... After cruising along in relative comfort for 25 or so miles we hit Co. Durham and we came across quite a large climb. Followed by another, then another. We'd had to walk up sections, my chain decided to jump it's gears on one ascent (if you've ever experienced this while climbing you'll know how painful it can end up), we ran low on water and energy food. Frankly we were all a bit sick of it. We perched on the top of the latest bastard (as they were now know) and gazed at a bunch of houses along a road at the bottom. That has to be Lanchester. It MUST be Lanchester. Spurred on by this thought I executed operation Bangin' Tunes1 and tore off down the hill, leaving my Dad and brothers chatting, nearing my previous maximum speed. As I descended into the bottom of the valley the town was in my eyes were drawn to a sign pointing up the other side: "Lanchester" it read. I may have let my lip wobble slightly. Still needs must and we pushed and pedaled our way up and out. Arriving, wheezing at the top I muttered "If that's not the last I'm walking the rest." Thankfully it was and a pretty good roll downhill into Lanchester followed.
A bloody great hill:
View from the top (there's actually More Hill, behind me):
Another bloody hill:
We might have gone a bit out of our way...
Once at the King's Head I suffered a bit of a sense of humour malfunction and stomped off to find cider, cigarettes and other supplies. Meanwhile arrangements were made for bicycles and whatnot.
Supplies sorted I got showered, a pint in and after a while we were seated for dinner. I rather foolishly agreed to split a bottle of red with Mum. Over dinner various subjects were discussed including the likely weather for tomorrow (awful) the limitations of breakfast timings (the chef would not be in until 9am) and what we were going to do about it. There were various schools of thought on this the main ones being:
1) arise early eschew a cooked breakfast and try to beat the weather.
2) Sleep in a bit have a cooked breakfast and just get wet
Opinion was roughly divided but eventually it was settled that Do What That wilt was going to be the plan. I opted for two, the usual suspects opted for one.
Also there was a presentation of Belgian choccies to Mum for her hard work so far, no doubt they have been enjoyed :)
I spent a bit more of the evening sitting outside with Will. Enjoying a drink and the pleasant evening before turning in to try, once again, to actually write a blog post. Once again I failed spending most of the time making notes and catching up with friends wishing me well. Will made a skype call to a friend in the states which was rather fragmented by the woeful state of his Mac's wi-fi. Eventually it was time for sleep troubled by a nagging pain in my right heel...