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Wednesday the 19th of July

400 Miles Clocked Up!

Day 6 of our trip was bloomin' hot! We haven't had a cool day but today seemed the hottest so far. And the cycling started out quite tough. And then it got tougher.

We planned the route with a stop in Settle because we thought the country side of Cumbria and Yorkshire would be more pleasant than cycling along the M6 through Lancaster. And without being too disrespectful to Lancaster (I'm sure it's a very nice place), it probably is a prettier route. What we didn't consider too much is just how much climbing we'd have to do. We didn't bank on this heat wave we were experiencing. We could feel our brains cooking inside our helmets and bandannas.

Our first stop was at Penrith where we found a cycle repair shop to free up Dan's shoe from his pedal. So a big thanks to Arragon's Cycle Centre. Penrith is a nice town if you're ever in the area. We didn't stay too long once Dan's bike was fixed, just long enough to stock up on water and energy foods.

Dan gets his bike back in working order

We headed out from Penrith to our planned lunch stop at Shap. We found a pub called the Bull's Head and wasted no time. Though it was a blistering hot day we chose to eat inside, we needed to keep out the sun as much as possible. Shap also lies across the C2C route and we bumped into plenty of walkers taking this challenge.

Leaving Shap we started a short but steep climb and then turned through good North English Countryside. We shared the otherwise empty roads with sheep. The problem with good North England countryside is that it's not too flat. And so began 20 or so miles of steep hills. It was either full on the brakes to keep us from crashing through road barriers or a 5 mph climb gasping for breath. There was just no in-between.

Good North English Countryside

This seemed to go on and on. We passed chocolate box scenes with people swimming in the streams and rivers. It took all my will power not to jump off the bike and join them, it was just too darned hot. We took an extra break at a pub we found en-route and began to wonder if we'd ever finish that day. We were exhausted and appeared not to be covering any ground.

Respite in a brief downhill part of today's route

As it got later, around 20:00, we were just 7 or 8 miles or so from Settle (which seemed to be signposted as 8 miles away for 5 miles) and on a plateau. There wasn't a hill in sight. Settle must be downhill. And it was, of a sort. After 6 or 7 miles of level-ish roads, we found a short downhill followed by a massive climb. Still, we counted down the miles and we reckoned that Settle must be around the next corner. Following the grueling climb we'd started a nice downhill stretch picking up some speed. Bonus! But then disappointment. We saw a town. We shouted for joy, it must be Settle, there is nothing else marked on the map and no signs for any other town.

But the sign proudly displayed "Gigglsewick". What?, Is that some kind of sick joke? We're exhausted and the only village we can see is called Giggleswick. Looking at the map on our last stop, the very next village is marked as Settle. How much further can it be? Has somebody moved the town? We are demoralised and ready to give up. But those feelings don't last long, we were still cursing our luck when we passed another sign. This one does indeed display the town name of "Settle". Blimey! At last!

As we cycle through the centre of Settle we spy Bryn waiting for us outside the Golden Lion Hotel cheering us on, congratulating us on what he knew to be a very tough day for us. I was close to crying with relief that the days challenge was over. Looking back this was by far the toughest day and the closest I came to giving up. If Bryn would've asked if I wanted to spend the rest of the journey with him in the van, he might have received an answer in the affirmative.

We didn't even check in to the digs. Bryn had done that for us, we went straight to the Golden Lion and got our evening meal. Food and a couple of beers later and all was right with the world. We didn't feel so exhausted now our arses weren't under the pressure from the saddle. Nope, we had a great big soft chair to sit on.

View from the bedroom of our guesthouse

While Bryn and Dad shared a room, myself, Matt and Dan were sharing another. However, our room only had bedding for 2 people. I hadn't even been inside our digs (the Station Masters House at Settle Train Station, next door to Settle Cycles, it turns out) and I was stood outside the van to preparing the air bed for a nights sleep. Matt turned up and we had a friendly argument about who'd use the air bed. I offered but Matt was having none of it. He insisted on using it. I thought to myself, what a nice guy. At least I did until I got to the room, this wasn't a twin, it was a double!

No wonder Matt wanted the air-bed. He didn't want to share a bed with another one of us geezers. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to use a sleeping bag so there was no contact between Dan and myself. None at all. Honest.

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