Posted by: Ian | October 18, 2012

JOGLE Day 6. Contact Points.

Last night I stayed in another good guest house (I’ll maybe list them sometime) and had an ideal post-ride dinner at a nearby Italian. This morning, after the usual hearty breakfast, I left Dumfries with my shortest day (only 68 miles) ahead of me. The morning’s cycling was fine but lacked the scenic drama of previous days. Most of the roads had little traffic but what there was was mainly HGV’s. I’ve come to wonder how many people in Scotland own vehicles with fewer than ten wheels.

Dumfries, from the little I’ve seen of it, appears to be a perfectly fine town but I was impatient to reach England. When I did, the little sign marking the border was disappointing. The St George was apologetically small and “Cumbria” shared equal billing with “England”. Glancing north up the M6, I saw a saltire of about thirty times the size.

Soon I was in Carlisle. The steady rain had cleared and I found my first Starbucks of the trip. More generally, Carlisle was the first cookie-cutter town and I had mixed feelings about the ubiquitous brands lining the High Street: they both cap and floor the town experience. Reservations aside, I enjoyed my flat white.

The next town I came to was Penrith and this appeared incomparably more interesting; but with only eight miles to my destination I didn’t feel like stopping again. Pausing for a few minutes above Penrith, I took in the view across the plain through which the M6 runs over to the mountainscape of the eastern Lakes. Although I don’t go there now, I’ve spent enough time there over the years for it to feel familiar.

I was apprehensive about the climb up to Shap. I had altitude to gain, more heavy rain was forecast and the predicted headwind had been evidenced soon after Carlisle by a cluster of spinning turbines that were directed hostilely towards me. But the rain held off and the ride was easier than I feared. There was even a nice descent into Shap, enabling me to arrive at speed in a big gear.

My exuberance was slightly punctured by the sight of a beautiful B&B: I knew the place I had hastily booked on the internet wouldn’t be nearly so pretty. It wasn’t. I predict that the inn where I had my pre-paid reservation is sliding down the path that will lead, before too long, to being boarded up. I arrived at 2:30 and it was locked shut. Now that I’m inside, the room is comfortable and has the facilities that I need; but it has the leather-accented chocolate and sky blue decor of a last desperate make-over before the hotel finally hits the skids. I feel for the owner: I can picture him wondering what else to do other than try to mimic salvatory hints from the Hotel Inspector. You wouldn’t have thought that Shap, which is just a few dwellings strung along the A6, would be big enough to have a wrong end but it does and the Kings Arms is inescapably in it.

The last establishment on the safe side of Shap’s harsh limit line of economic destiny may be the coffee shop. I had a very nicely middle class jackpot and scone there with (of course) decent filter coffee. Next to me a well turned out girl with highlights that she didn’t do at home was telling her mother (who sported a lime green duffel coat) she’d divined that Darren was after a mistress to be like all his mates. I even managed to buy The Guardian in the newsagents at 2:45 (try doing that in Patna), which was my first since I left Somerset and thus a treat.

My early arrival at Shap came despite a puncture before leaving Scotland: my first so far. I don’t blame the tyres. All of the flooding, which even after the rain stopped reached my bottom bracket at one point, had swept a load of large stones into the road. I swerved to find a clear line but didn’t manage it and clunked the back wheel over one of them. Fortunately, I found a handy shelter to make my repair.

Just before leaving for my trip I fitted new Conti Gator Hardshells – 25 mm on the rear and 23 mm on the front. I’ve had the already-comfortable 3T Ergonova handlebars double-taped. The stem could do with being a bit longer but I didn’t feel like switching it just before JOGLE, especially as I felt fine after a 150 mile ride with Emily recently.

I was in two minds about pedals. I prefer my Speedplays but ultimately chose to bring SPD’s as the Mavic shoes that I wear with them have more utility off the bike than my superior Rapha shoes with clompy cleats on the bottom.

Finally, I’m using a Charge Spoon saddle. It’s medium weight and not very pricey. I find it most comfortable.

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Responses

  1. […] also wrote a little about this Inn on my Day 6 post. Everything was fine, the owner couldn’t have been friendlier and I had a very nice pork […]


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