August 24, 2014, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 4 Blog: Day 9 – Garstang to Carlisle

Today Chris J rode in honour of Alfi Mjeshtri. Alfi lost his battle with the disease at age four. Chris J commented: ‘I am tremendously proud to be cycling in honour of Alfi. I am truly amazed at the courage and resilience of the children and families affected by this disease. This inspires us all every day of the ride, and I hope the support raised from LC4 will make a real difference to patient care and after care’.

We stayed overnight at Lancaster University, where my youngest son Dan was a student. As you can see from his blog comment he has already had a very distinguished military and academic career since leaving and for those interested in the story behind this remarkable combination, I believe the first volume of his memoirs is imminent.

Esteban, David, Svenja and NickBreakfast was from bags. The banana was very good, as was the croissant. Mine also included a DIY porridge with caramel, the first and last time I will try that. I discarded the rest.

The Jaggerettes, Steve and Doug were gone by 07:30 with Daniel Hallgarten and Ollie Walton as leg riders, followed by Andy and David W. Nick, Esteban and Svenja waited back for me. We left at 08:30, with Chris R following shortly after.

There was a choice of routes: one, slightly longer and slightly hillier, out east to Kirkby Lonsdale, and north to Tebay, then to Carlisle via Penrith. The other was the A6 all the way, through Carnforth, Kendal, Shap and Penrith. After getting in so late yesterday, leaving no time in the evening, I had decided the night before I was on the A6. That was also the route of choice for Andy and David W. I did not see David R at the start, but he and Ottilie also took this route.

The forward group stayed together until Kirkby Lonsdale, then broke up into two smaller groups. They enjoyed the scenery of the Dales, so much so that Doug described it as the most attractive route he had ridden in England. They also enjoyed the tea shops, especially The Old School House in Tebay, where several had a nap in front of the fire.

Our day essentially broke down into three stages: a fast run from Bailrigg to Kendal; a monster of a climb to about 1,300 feet and rapid descent to Shap; then a fast run through Penrith to Carlisle.

We took an early lunch in Kendal, in The Master’s House Tea Shop, which made up for the lack of breakfast. As we left Kendal I noted the distance to Shap was 16 miles and we only descended for the last three. The rest was climbing. It was a long slow grind, but through stunning scenery. I tend to pass through this area on the M6 and have never travelled on the A6. It must be one of the most scenic roads in England, and it was pretty well empty.

David R and OttilieIn Shap we found The Abbey Coffee Shop, outstanding locally produced sausage rolls and beef and potato wraps; great fuel for the final part of our journey. And whilst we were there, Andy and David W showed up. They too had been in Kendal, visiting a relative of David. After we left, David and Ottilie joined them.

It was a great run, in dry conditions, albeit with a cold northerly wind in our faces. We were at our accommodation in Cumbria University by 16:00: time to do my washing, time to start today’s blog, time to catch up on football (great 4-0 win for Forest over Reading); even time to have a shave! What luxury.

Now for some team updates.

As far as I am aware there were no punctures today. I am amazed, given the number of riders and distances covered that we have had so few (ten in total). We did however have one fall. Chris R hit a big pot hole and came off, sustaining cuts and scrapes.

During our ride, Svenja clocked up £20 in fines (three red lights, one no-entry) which were collected by Paul over dinner. There followed a deluge of other misdemeanours from Steve, Chris J, Susan, Nick, Doug. Even I was taken for £5 for allegedly going through a pedestrian crossing when someone was on it (which is true, but the person waved me through). Daniel added to the total, by matching the £5 I paid earlier for his successful blog challenge. Anyway, in no time Paul had collected about £150 to be added to the Support Team’s fundraising pot.Karen as Miss August

There was another prize up for grabs today; the team pursuit, over the circuit from Kendall to Shap. This is open to teams of four or more and was won by the team I was part of, with Nick leading us over the top and into Shap. Inevitably there were challenges (though not from Svenja this time) including ‘it was unfair to those on the other route’. Well as the saying goes, if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.

Competition for the inaugural Life Cycle calendar grows by the day, and we now have a submission on behalf of Karen.

Finally, in yesterday’s blog I included a picture of Penelope asleep at dinner. That has triggered a flurry of other pictures, of other riders asleep at breaks, lunches and dinners. Rest time is being grabbed whenever it can be.

Two different distances were covered today. For those on the A60 it was 72 miles, for those on the Kirkby Lonsdale route it was 78 miles. In either case our shortest full day so far, taking our total to 840 (longer than the shortest Land’s End to John O’Groats route).Susan's nap

Despite fatigue, spirits remain high and both the riders and Support Team remain highly motivated. Total funds raised so far for the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre now exceed £576,000.

Yesterday Doug received a donation from the child he is riding for, Claudia Burkill, with the simple message, ‘From my piggy bank’. Thank you, Claudia.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 4