Day Four started with our merry Band of Brothers reduced to seven to carry on northwards. Bill and Cathy Biggs had both intended to cycle with us right through to the Lake District. The fact that they had trained hard throughout the spring to make sure they were ready for the challenge made their ill luck all the more cruel when Bill tore a leg muscle two days before we started and had to drop out. Cathy cycled the first day but had to then return home.
And then there were six. 14 miles into his second day, Simon Meadowcroft succumbed to a foot injury which left him unable to continue riding. Where we had planned to be 9 riders entering Cheshire, we were now just six.
Onwards rode the six, entering the outskirts of Chester – the home county of our pedalling pedagogist, KPS Head Teacher Mark. A brief stop to get a wave from his parents as we passed their home village, and then on again.
Quickly the country lanes gave way to busy highways and we swapped cows for 18-wheeled juggernauts. Where the morning had given us Hope Valley (stunning), the afternoon gave us Warrington (stark). As we entered industrial heartlands, the sky darkened and the first steady, teeming rain of the journey sent spirits plummeting as we notched up 100 miles and still had 14 miles of busy roads to get to Bolton.
Day 4: Clun to Bolton: 114 miles, 3,252 vertical ft ascent