With my first full solo day ahead of me, I made an early start to take advantage of the bright blue skies over Cumbria.
The A5074 was eerily quiet and I made good progress to Windermere where crowds were starting to gather for an air show.
I headed straight to Ambleside where I stopped to get new brake blocks. They’d taken a pounding on all the hills in Cornwall and I didn’t fancy a fast descent without decent brakes.
From Ambleside, the only way was up. And a very steep up at that. My route was to take me up and over the Kirkstone Pass via a road only known as “The Struggle”. It’s a 3-mile ascent that’s starts steep at 20%, levels off to 10% before the final zig zag section up to the Kirkstone Inn that gets to 25% gradient in places. This was the climb I was dreading most – but also the climb I was looking forward to most.
At the bottom, I met some nice walkers who took my photo and also gave a donation to the BHF.
The climb itself was tough, but not actually a tough as I was expecting. Having trained on the 20% climb that’s Chalkpit Lane in Kent, the Struggle was just a prolonged version. When I reached the zig zags, I was overtaken by some cyclists in training, but I kept to the outside of the bends and persevered to reach the top without stopping. Knackered but chuffed that I’d made it with my fully laden panniers.
After a quick break, it was time for the descent. I’ve seen YouTube videos of 50mph descents on the Kirkstone Pass, so that was my aim. I waited a good few minutes after a car had passed before I set off. The descent itself was perfect! Fast, but with just about the right amount of twists to make it interesting. As there were no cars coming the other way, I used both sides of the road. I overtook 2 cars and prayed to the God of road maintenance as I averaged 40mph for 3 miles.
After a beautiful cycle alongside Ullswater, I headed north (into a strong headwind) and battled the last 20 miles into Carlisle, where I had a sports massage to ease out the tight legs.
Just back from seeing Nikki Wadey, who came over to see me from Alston.
Tomorrow’s a big day: 84 hilly miles to Newton Stewart. I can’t quite believe that I’ll have cycled to Scotland! I’m doing my best to keep the LEJoG flame alive until I may be re-joined by my injured team mates in a few days’ time.
3,793ft ascent. 3,839ft descent.
Fastest speed 42.2mph.
Average speed 12.7mph
Average Heart Rate: 126bpm
Max heart rate 191bpm.
Average cadence 69rpm