We packed up Twolula this morning looking around to check that we had everything as she looked so denuded with just two panniers and our jackets wrapped up on the back rack. As we set off leaving our little two day home behind, we immediately wondered what we were thinking to load up all the stuff we had thought we needed for the journey. The irony is that we had, prior to setting off, congratulated ourselves at how pared down we had made our kit compared to our previous touring of the Netherlands, where we had an additional two front panniers!
The going was so much easier as we negotiated our way out of Clitheroe, not just on our legs but the manoeuvrability of the bike.
Once out of Clitheroe our departure from the prescribed route necessitated very careful navigation as we were not joining the national cycle routes until some way off. Though we knew that the going would be easier without the heavy load, we were still loath to tackle hills with too steep and long an incline; a tandem is a heavier bike overall and though we can build up quite a speed on the downhill and lick along on the flat, that is soon brought to an almost halt at any hills. That is not to say that hills are unmanageable, but you have to build up a rhythm and consistently work hard to make the summit. This tandem lacks the lower gear ratio of our old bike which we certainly miss. Having barely recovered from our extremely tough experiences in the first few days we knew we needed to be sensible or our bodies would not be able to keep up the daily hours of work if we were constantly at full tilt. We do after all have a combined age of 110!
We had foregone the big climb over the Yorkshire Dales National Park and skirted around and made our way to Lancaster. We have come to be wary of place names which include such words as ‘High or Fell’, examining the contour lines around them assessing the gradient. The verdant countryside of Lancashire on our route was not without it’s hills, but we managed these without feeling completely spent and disheartened, and of course for every up there was a nice freewheel down, always a joy. The farming here is mainly sheep and we were cheered on by a chorus of BAAAAs which we of course returned to bemused stares.
The weather forecast had been poor and we were prepared to battle through heavy rain during the morning, fortunately though, the rain we did meet was relatively light and as the temperature was warm we did not need to tog up in waterproofs. Luckily we seemed to be travelling in the opposite direction of the rain and seemingly at the outer edges of it.
Given the isolation of the route for much part, there was a distinct lack of stopping places to have a rest and morning coffee. After 3 hours of peddling we needed a break and found a not unpleasant gateway and dug out our foam mats (our camping seats having been deemed a luxury for flatter tours). Refreshed, we continued on our way, and as is always the case we came upon bench after bench that would have provided pleasant stopping places. Heigh ho.
We left Route 6 that we had been following for some time at Galgate and then navigated our way along the local cycleways through the outskirts of Lancaster, passing through the considerable campus of just one of the Universities with a presence in Lancaster. The well marked cycleways to the city centre then directed us on easily to the station and we reached our destination 2 minutes ahead of our estimated time of 13.00hrs. We were though tired after nearly 5 hours of peddling and were pleased we had taken the decision to take the train to Carlisle. Our only regret was missing out visiting a friend near Kendal and enjoying her popular supper club – Wednesday night is curry night and the menu this week (as always) looked delicious.
We had to book Twolula on the train as two bikes so split her down for easy loading, though she would probably have fitted into the designated space in one piece. We were please to have achieved this quite quickly as we are not too practiced at this and it can be a little tricky (though not as tricky as lining up the couplings when putting her back together). The journey to Carlisle was less than an hour and in that time we had booked a hotel close to the station. Arriving just after 2pm, we found out way with the assistance of some kind station employees, to our hotel in no time. Twolula is ensconced in a cupboard in reception and we have had a nice relaxing afternoon, sorting out our lodgings for the next few days of the trip with our next rest day in Glasgow to explore the city a little.
So having had a lovely steak supper and meander around the centre of Carlisle, for the first time since our second day of the journey, we are not completely exhausted and are again feeling positive about our trip.