August 30, 2012, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 6 – Kilmarnock to Annan
I forgot to mention on yesterday’s blog that Chris R was first in to Dreghorn and won back the yellow jersey.
That may seem a minor detail. However Sergeant Major Jagger and Lord Neville de Wylie have been rooming together and it turns out that, rather than getting the rest they need, they have been deconstructing my blogs to find inaccuracies, typos and erreurs in my French.
And I am afraid they found an inaccuracy. Evidently on Day 4 I did not get the order of departure of the riders from Spean Bridge correct. Sorry about that.
I have absolutely no idea what the order of departure was this morning. (Nor am I prepared to speculate, for fear of incurring the opprobrium of my scrutineers). I know for certain I was last out, about an hour and a quarter after the others, to ensure the Day 5 blog was completed and despatched. Mike kindly stayed back so I was not riding alone.
I found the first hour a bit of a struggle: I still had lead in my legs from yesterday and the terrain was undulating. So, when I stopped for fluids after an hour, I was surprised to find we had covered 15 miles.
That set the pattern for the day. Mike was a great pace maker and way finder, and we completed our 94 miles at an average speed of 15mph. For me, with 4,200 feet of climbing and much of the day into headwinds, it was a fast ride.
We followed an excellent route, through a highly underrated part of Scotland. Dumfries and Galloway does not attract the same attention as Argyll and Bute or the Highlands, but it is beautiful terrain: huge wide open landscapes and lovely villages. Our route took us straight through Galloway Forest Park.
We took a short break after 30 miles, in Dalmellington. The first place we spotted was a roadside snack bar, so we topped up on egg bap, tea, coffee and caramel wafer – all for the princely sum of £3. The snack bar is run by Bill and Sheena, who were great company. If you are in the area it is in the truckers’ car park behind the Jet Garage.
Unbeknown to Mike and I, Chris J, Gavin, Steve, Penelope, Kate and Karen were also in Dalmellington, in a café in the centre of the village. As we were now on different routines for stops, we pressed on but did see Steve at our next stop and the whole group at their final stop.
When we left the town we faced the first of two big climbs, then a glorious road over the high ground through Corsock followed by another climb to Crocketford. By this time we had put in 65 miles at pace and I now needed a meal rather than more snacks, so we stopped at The New Galloway Arms. Baked potatoes set us up nicely for the final 30 miles.
The last stretch took us into Dumfries, the ‘Queen of the South’ and home town of Robert Burns. From there we dipped down and skirted the Solway Firth through to Annan. The final 20 miles were pretty flat and with lovely views of the Lake District to the south. Despite the headwinds we belted through it.
Annan was our destination and the venue for our last night in Scotland. It is the first time I have been here, an attractive sandstone town with a fine high street. It will be a livelier place next weekend; Rangers are in town to play Annan Athletic.
No mishaps today, which as always is good news. But we finally have a puncture. Sebastian, who knows a thing or two about cycling found one on Chris J’s bike. So he gets the pink bell back, and because he tried to conceal his puncture, he keeps it for an extra day.
Accomplishment of the day: it would be easy to give it to Andy for another 100 miler, but back to back centuries is just showing off. Sorry Andy. Instead it goes to Penelope who has now cycled way more miles than she has ever done before, has just done three consecutive 90 mile days, and is still chirpy and cheerful.
Shock of the day: you have probably already spotted this one, Lord Neville sharing with someone from the Other Ranks. But that is what this Life Cycle does in breaking down social barriers.
Quote of the day: that one goes to Jenny, Steve’s partner who joined us in Annan, but can’t be repeated. So, we will have Team of the Day instead and that again goes to the Support Team, who scuttled around a more dispersed group than usual and never seemed to be far away.
Some readers have been asking about Chris J’s military background, which service, where he served and so on. Some riders have been speculating about whether secrecy implies Special Forces. I asked Gavin to do some research and find out. He has now come back to me to confirm details: Sergeant Major in the Beeston Home Guard, with active service in Chilwell, Bramcote and Wollaton, as well as further afield in Caunton. So there we are, another mystery cleared up.
This is our last night in Scotland. It seems no time at all since we arrived. We have now completed 461 miles and 25,000 feet of climbing. All of the riders are creaking in one way or another, but are in great spirits. They are an outstanding group of people to do this with.
Finally thank you all for the interest you have taken in this and for commenting on the blog. I appreciate it greatly and the riders take a lot of pleasure in reading your comments. For anyone who is interested, Andrew Burden’s films of the first couple of days are now up on YouTube.
Thank you also to everyone for your support, we have now passed £200,000 in funds raised, a fantastic effort.
So it is back in to England tomorrow and a slightly shorter day at just over 80 miles. The weather forecast is good.
Professor David Greenaway