Today stood out on our itinerary as the longest day of the trip, and with lots of fiddly navigation through the towns of Lancashire and Cheshire the mileage could easily grow if we took wrong turns. Thankfully, this wasn’t something we had to worry about for the first 30 miles, so we pedalled out of the Youth Hostel with porridge in our bellies and sunshine on our faces, through the rolling hills of south Lakeland. After a brief hold-up due to some cows in the road we headed down the peaceful and blissfully flat Lyth valley and eventually to Lancaster, where we refilled our bellies with Sainsbury’s breakfasts. The terrain stayed fairly benign along the A6, evidently a popular road for end to enders as there was a steady stream coming the other way. Unfortunately Jon’s knee was giving him trouble so he had to take a break, but did a great job helping Bill out in the support van.
Things got a bit tedious as we passed through Preston, Wigan and Warrington, with traffic lights, map checks, a few light showers and the odd wrong turn to slow our progress. Instead of admiring the scenery we turned to stadium-spotting (Deepdale, the DW and the Halliwell Jones stadium were all ticked off). As the showers got less light and more frequent, Paul wasn’t feeling too great so decided to call it a day and join Jon in the van. With four riders left and a lot of miles to go, morale was pretty low, but eventually the weather cleared up and we hit some nice quiet roads as we crossed into Shropshire. Progress wasn’t exactly brisk, but with help from Jon Springett’s fresh legs and some over-exuberant through-and-off in the last five miles (where did that energy come from?) we eventually made it to the rather posh Mercure just outside Shrewsbury, where the masseurs were ready and waiting for us.