I wandered lonely as a cloud

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.


At the bottom of “The Struggle” road up the Kirkstone Pass

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.

Cycling Kirkstone Pass Struggle with Panniers

Looking back down the Struggle from the top of the Kirkstone pass

Kirkstone Inn cycling panniers Kikstone Pass Struggle

Taking a break outside the Kirkstone inn after cycling The Struggle with 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.

Garmin stats for LEJoG Day 7: target

63.37 miles.
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

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