This morning, I left my accommodation and went in search of breakfast. Remembering I’d passed a Tesco Express on my way in to Carlisle, I cycled up the hill only for it to be closed. I suddenly remembered that it was Sunday. I normally only lose track of the day of the week on the second or third week away – not within 8 days!
So, breakfastless, I headed out of Carlisle towards Scotland – immediately hitting a strong headwind as I cycled adjacent to the M6.
After 10 miles or so, I saw the “Scotland Welcomes You” sign. In England, it was great to be able to tick off the counties as we passed them. Now, as I stretched to take a self portrait with my camera phone, I was chuffed to have been able to tick off my first country.
Once in Gretna Green, I made a slight detour to see the Old Blacksmith’s shop before heading west towards Dumfries. It’s bizarre that exactly the time I changed my heading, the wind switched direction too. I was now cycling west into a strong headwind.
I plodded on and got to Dumfries, just as a band in the city centre started playing Flower of Scotland and it was then that I knew I’d smashed a big psychological barrier. I had cycled to Scotland.
From Dumfries, I followed what my GPS told me was the Old Military Road. It headed directly west over some beautiful countryside. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, my legs were feeling good and I was making good progress.
The last 20 miles were beautiful yet bloody tough. The road wound up some long hills but the headwind was strong. There’s no escaping it either when you’re cycling by yourself. It’s relentless. That said, I tried to focus on what was around me to take my mind off the wind and hills. I saw little rodents scurry across the road, a big eagle-type bird, a whole range of roadkill in varying states of decay (reminds me I had to ride over/through a dead badger yesterday in order not to get squashed myself on the A road!), and I also rode up close to a small deer as it was walking up the road ahead of me.
The last 10 miles were into the strongest headwind I’ve faced on the trip so far. I need my team mates back to do some work at the front for me!
I made it to Minnigaff, where I met Mike and Kev from Melbourne who are taking 3 weeks to do their LEJoG. We went to the pub, ate loads and now it’s bed.
Big day tomorrow! I’ve just seen there are 2 climbs up to 1,300ft to do. It’s also a race to catch the afternoon ferry to Arran.
Stats for LEJoG day 8:
3,520ft ascent. 3,615ft descent.
Fastest speed 37.4mph.
Average speed 13.3mph
Average Heart Rate: 124bpm
Max heart rate 158bpm.
Average cadence 74rpm