August 22, 2013, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 3 – Slaley to Innerleithin

Nick and I cycled 102 miles today. We hadn’t planned to do that. More later.

Overnight accommodation at Slaley Hall was very comfortable and we were joined by Susan and Jenny Wright and her boys. There had evidently been a bit of argy-bargy on room sharing arrangements. Now that Nick has an OBE, Lord Neville was very keen to room with him. But he was allocated a room with Steve, not sure why (although a common factor is issues with red lights).

Stefano's new GarminI had the Day 2 blog to finish and post, so did not get away until 0900. Nick and Stefano waited for me. So we had an 8-3 formation today (Man City away I suppose). The Support team had acquired a new Garmin for Stefano: larger screen and with directions in English rather than Italian. I have included a picture of this impressive device.

We knew this was going to be a really tough day, longer than yesterday, but with much more climbing. It was, with a combination of long distances and relentless climbs and descents, and our first rain. It was also a route through the wonderful terrain of Northumberland and the Southern Uplands.

We worked our way through Hexham, Bellingham, Kielder Forest, Hawick, Selkirk and finally to Innerleithin. So the ride included a series of very distinctive market towns (including a Royal Burgh in Selkirk), some big landscapes, some dense forests and some wonderful valleys, ending up with Innerleithin in the Tweed Valley.

We stopped at the Falstone Tea Shop, an excellent location with great food and again we received spontaneous donations.

Nick and David reach ScotlandBut this was a day of hard miles, made harder by the fact that Nick and I took a wrong turning and added miles unnecessarily. We had actually entrusted ourselves to Stefano and his new Garmin and I must say, he did an outstanding job. It even made me wonder whether this was a technology I could master, but it takes special skills.

Then he abandoned us just before a crucial turning, ostensibly to get back to see Jenny, but obviously to make a dash for the yellow jersey. He failed, that went to Kate who was first in, so well done Kate.

Nick and I were in last at around 1915, so again not much washing or blogging time. On the washing front I did try some advice from Bryan Steel, the Nottingham based Olympic cycling medallist, to roll shorts in a towel and wring it. It works a treat. Penelope has developed this further by jumping on the rolled towel rather than wringing it, gel pants evidently dry out even more quickly that way.

There are a range of team matters to report on. Steve was spotted leaving a Police Station in Hawick. He states he was there to find directions to Sarah’s Café, not paying a fixed penalty notice, and I have no reason to doubt that. Marion’s case is more straightforward: she rode through a red light in a road works zone on the A7, and with lots of witnesses. Someone on-site told her it was a £30 fixed penalty. Over to Paul on that one.

The main pack evidently more or less ran into a flock of sheep, which obviously became very agitated. Penelope, who has great experience with sheep in New Zealand knew what to do, and Chris ‘kettled them’ (his words, not mine) so the team could pass.

Today’s awards:

Accomplishment of the day: it would be nice to award this to me and Nick for riding over 100 miles, but that seems a bit self-indulgent. So it goes to Penelope and Chris for sorting out the sheep.

Kate supervises bike repairsUncharitable act of the day (formerly known as dastardly deed of the day, but some object to that) can only go to Stefano for abandoning me and Nick to try and win a yellow jersey. Leaving me is bad enough, but Professor Miles OBE is another matter – he could still be out in the wilds and miss his date with HMQ.

Team management award goes to Kate, for the expert way she mobilises those around her. The final picture is a master class in how to deal with a puncture.

Quote of the day goes to Steve, who told me ‘your blog is just a complete work of fiction’. Shooting the messenger or what?

Mileage today varied from 95 to 102, so I will record 98 as the official mileage. That takes us to 281 miles in the first three days.

Tomorrow we visit our first capital. It looks like a slightly shorter day, which will be very welcome.

Still no sign of my Forest shirt.

Professor David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 3