August 25, 2014, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 4 Blog: Day 10 – Carlisle to Cumnock

Reaching ScotlandToday we were riding for Jessica Hope and David W was the designated rider.

I unexpectedly met Jessica’s Dad the Saturday before we left, when I went to Guantleys to buy a bottle of Tomatin. As I was giving personal details for their mailing list, John Gauntley came from the back of the shop, introduced himself, and we talked for a while about Jessica. I had not made the connection, as I thought of his daughter as Jessica Hope, when it is Jessica Hope Gauntley. It was a poignant meeting for me so close to setting off.

Here is what David W had to say about Jessica: ‘As a paediatric oncologist I see many young people face their illness with great courage. Jessica shared that quality, she was a bright and vivacious personality with many gifts and brightened the company she shared. Jessica’s family have shown us how to be courageous, thoughtful of others, and to try to make a change for the better for others with this serious disease. Carrying Jessica’s bracelet is a tangible mark of the impact of this ride upon us all’.

Our accommodation at Cumbria University was comfortable, but very cold. I ended up piling clothes on my thin quilt to stay warm. For breakfast, the staff came in specially to ensure we had something substantial to eat. That was very good of them on a Bank Holiday Sunday. So a big thanks to David the chef and his colleagues.

The 07:30 crew were off on schedule. I believe it included Chris J, Karen, Marion, Svenja, Penelope, Steve, Nieves, Andy and Daniel as a leg rider, though it split into two groups after Dumfries. Nick, Doug, Susan, Esteban and David W all waited for me and we were off towards 08:30. Chris R followed us.

The day started flat. Flat is good first thing, when you have to work the stiffness out of your legs; much easier to do on the flat than on early morning climbs. Before we knew it, we had covered the 10 miles from Carlisle to Gretna where we crossed the border. After some pictures and a chat with a couple of Irish lads who were cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, we headed towards Annan, then Dumfries. It was cold, but with clear skies and lovely views over the Solway Firth. Doug and David W pulled away from our group on that stretch.

In Dumfries we met up with just about everyone else in the Burns Tea Room and Coffee House, to enjoy wholesome local fare: some opted for haggis, some for Lorne sausage (or as it is more commonly known, square sausage).

Everyone left at different times, to take the A75 northwest; Steve, Andy, Nieves, Penelope and Daniel left before Thornhill to take minor roads. We stayed on the A75 (as did Chris J, Karen, Marion and Svenja ahead of us). It is a good road which snakes through the river valley, undulating and attractive, but with a bone shaking surface for long stretches.

We stopped in Thornhill to get bananas, Boost bars, salted peanuts and Lucozade. After that, the only other stop we made was in Kilmochan, where we found a shop with a machine which dispensed tea, coffee and Bovril. Nick, Susan, Esteban and I arrived at the Dumfries Arms in Cumnock about 16:15. Chris R, Chris J, Karen, Marion and Svenja were in just before, and Steve, Nieves, Andy, Penelope and Daniel shortly after, followed by David R and Ottilie.

CJ and the JaggerettesWe have again had visitors today: Nick’s Mum and his sisters; and Susan’s husband and daughters. It was, as always, a pleasure.

Today we have seen an awful lot of spontaneous generosity: from donations from passers-by, to support in The Royal in Cumnock where the locals would not allow any of the team to buy drinks.

We stayed at The Dumfries Arms in Cumnock, which had secured a surprise appearance of CJ and the Jaggerettes. Unfortunately it was sold out. So we had a Life Cycle auction instead. A range of Life Cycle related memorabilia was auctioned, which included framed pictures of Life Cyclers (who were keen to pay handsomely to keep them), a CJ microphone, Andy’s wig and various other items. It was a lot of fun, allowed everyone to let off steam, and raised £1,000 for the Support Team’s fundraising.

We have a couple of ‘Quotes of the Day’.

First, since Doug first donned his pink Rapha number, there has been serious gilet envy on the part of some of our female riders. Penelope has managed to buy one somewhere, and Susan, who was riding with Doug yesterday used one of his others, a very nice understated cheque with a pink vein, Very classy. Doug told Susan she could have it for the rest of the ride. When she changed from heavy to light gear this morning she said: ‘I love this gilet, it’s really good that Doug is getting a bit fat’. That’s gratitude for you, Doug.Doug's entry for the LC4 calendar

Second, at the same stop, I asked Adam if he could check my box for one of those neck things, he replied: ‘Do you mean a neck buff, like the one hanging out of your back pocket?’ It’s some combination of age and fatigue; I left yesterday with just one glove and only realised after 15 miles when my right hand was becoming noticeably colder than my right.

Finally, submissions for the calendar keep coming in, and one has been submitted for Doug in his eye catching gilet.

The NewbiesWe have now clocked up 920 miles. That is a phenomenal effort on everyone’s part, but the newbies deserve special mention. This is brand new territory for them. They have coped with the mental, physical and emotional effort of getting this far admirably. They are my Team of the Day.

I was in again shortly after 16:00 and, among other things, that has allowed me to catch up on the many comments on the blog. A big thank you to all of you. It means a lot to the riders and the Support Team to see this level of interest in our challenge.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 4