Five miles out of Keswick we turned off the A-road. The network of narrow country lanes to reach Carlisle would involve more hills and more miles than the main road would have done. But this was our approach to the whole ride.
We could have done the whole thing on A-roads and lopped nearly 100 miles off the whole End-to-End. Or we could have done the whole ride on National Cycle Network routes than avoided all the towns and kept entirely to country lanes – and cycled nearly 1800 miles from Land’s End to John o’Groats.
We compromised – so benefited from country lanes for at least one part of every day, but still managed to cover 985 miles from Land’s End in 9 days (755 miles from Bath in 7 days).
Nothing special about the cycling for much of the day, so that gives me the time to introduce the band (of brothers) who did Land’s End to John o’Groats (Steve, Lucy, Jonathan, Neil) or Bath to John o’Groats (Mark, Philip):
Steve “Big Ring” Williams on bass – the natural sprinter who started off in Cornwall hating hills, and somehow turned by the time we reached Scotland to love them.
Lucy “Cotton Kills” Philips on keyboards – a cycling machine who devoured anything the route threw at her, providing invaluable leadership on the critical subject of socks or no socks (never cotton socks on a wet day, if you need to ask).
Jonathan “Rapha” Brooks on lead vocals – the man with an eye for style and a jersey to match every occasion. And at least two pairs of shorts (at once) to match every rash, but that’s another story.
Neil “F-I-C” Morris on drums – the author of this blog and the man behind the maps, who beat out the rhythm each day between country lanes and finding the hostel each night. A lover of hills, I planned each day to include one climb more than was strictly necessary.
Mark “Marvelous Marvin Hagler” Brearey on lead guitar – one of the two pedalling pedagogists on the ride, and a man to throw himself flat out at any hill the UK could offer him. Graduated from no-hands sprinting novice to serious green jersey contender during the week.
Philip “The Power” Dixon on rhythm guitar – another pedalling pedagogist who featured in the peleton at the end of each and every day, using his phenomenal descending speed to gain on the rest of the team, and then promptly losing his advantage when it came to the inevitable uphill.
Yvonne and Ellie “Don’t let Mark ride off with the keys to the van” Brearey, the Road Managers. Behind every team lies the secret of their success. Unfortunately the pace of our cycling meant that the Road Managers spent most of their time in front of us. Without them we would still be in Wales – we’re indebted to them for their support.
Day 6: Keswick to Hamilton: 112 miles; 4445 ft ascent