Day 7 – Penrith to Elvanfoot(ish)

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Mike:  Firstly a big thank you.  The gentleman we met in the garage yesterday did indeed remember the web address and sponsored us.  I think we were both bowled over by that gesture, so if the man responsible is reading this – thank you!

What an eventful day!  Our support person, Jayne, who has been spoiling us rotten over the last few days, arrived this morning in a state of distress.  Due to the Appleby Fair in Penrith, there wasnt enough accomodation for all of us in one place so Jayne found a room in a nearby B&B (nearby meant about 10 miles away!).  To keep the bikes safe she took them to her accomodation.  The problem as we found this morning, was that reversing out of the drive (which she got the house owner to do as she was sure about a big car going backwards up a steep drive) my bike got caught on a tree and came off the car.  So, Jayne drove to us completely distraught and we piled in to go check out the damage.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, the brake lever was skewed which we fixed, and there is a dent in the down tube (which will have to stay there).  So a few adjustments, checks and a road test later I decided it was okay and off we went.

We got to Scotland before 10am and did the obligatory photo by the sign (to be uploaded shortly) and on we went.  We were making such good progress that we passed through Ecclefechan by 11am which was due to be our lunch stop (whatever Jayne did to my bike clearly improved it!).  We then decided that we would lunch at Moffat (which is actually where we are staying tonight).

After a very nice lunch we set off with a plan to ride beyond Elvanfoot and get Jayne to pick us up later.  This began somewhat ominously with a climb out of Moffat toward the Edinburgh Scenic Trail.  We were going up for sometime before our left hand turn (B719) came along, and then went up more, and more, and more.  Before the end we were at 1270 feet, having started at 220 in Moffat.  The downhill was good though!

We then rejoined the road we had been on most of the morning (cant remember the number but its national cycle way 74).  Have to say its one of the tedious roads I have ever been on – the scenery is fine, sometimes spectacular, but the road is long, straight and flat for miles. Worse stilll is the road surface which has the same smooth qualities as a not very smooth thing from rough land.

Finally we got to Elvanfoot and there came our second “event” of the day.  We missed the sign to Abington and went through the village instead and up the otherside.  Once again we found ourselves on a long slow climb in the blazing sun.  Dont know about Derek but I was really enjoying it.  The vista opened out to a wide glen and hills/mountains.  I could almost hear the sound of dead clansman calling and couldn’t resist shouting “MacLeod” as I rode along (From the film “Highlander” in case you dont know that)

We travelled on for, oh about 8 or 9 miles and came to a “Welcome to Dunfries and Galloway” sign.  After taking a picture we then realised we were heading South, which is not really a good thing when the destination is John O’Groats.  A quick phone call to Jayne (who was currently in a service station about 20 miles UP the road) who kindly said she would come back and pick us up.  We decided not to wait where we were but headed back the way we came to meet her at Elvanfoot.

The journey back to Moffat was the third “event” but I think Derek best explain that one!

Derek: Things had definitely been going to well, so there was bound to be a time when it all came undone, and today it was undone in style. As Mike said, there was an incident with the bikes, with Mike’s coming off much worse than mine. My bike only suffered from a twisted brake/gear lever, a covering of pollen from the offending tree, and a dent to its pride – other than that it was as road-worthy as ever, so still no excuses to duck out! My main concerns though were for Mike who’s bike had been quite badly damaged, and for Jayne who was

The ride into Scotland was fun, and also somewhat exciting. The A74 was very busy even for a Sunday morning, and there were roadworks which reduced it down to two lanes. Mike and I decided not to do as the sign suggested and to carry on without calling for a police escort. This was, as I said, quite exciting – that is if you find riding on a 12″ verge next to very fast and large HGVs and caravans exciting!

Then we were in to Scotland – a major milestone for us in that we now consider ourselves to be well and truly over the half-way mark in every sense – days, mileage and even countries.

The ride to Moffat was ok in general, with the exception of the B7076 (the road who’s name Mike couldn’t remember). This is, having done a few dozen miles on it, without a doubt the most boring, repetetive, dull and brain-numbing road on the planet, not helped by the almost cobble-stone road surface which makes every bone and muscle ache – especially your feet, hands and, er, bottom. If you ever get a chance to ride on this road – stay well clear! It was so bad, in fact, that to take his mind off things, Mike was dancing to a song from the Proclaimers while cycling on his bike!

The B719 that we tackled just after lunch was, on the other hand, fantastic. It’s a bit of a nasty climb, but well worth it in the end. It has lovely views, and an even better descent!

Unfortunately, this is where things went wrong for the 2nd time today. Shortly after the B719 and yet another tedious stretch on the B7076, we were heading for Elvenfoot and beyond. Because we had originally had Elvenfoot as our end-point for today, we both naturally headed towards it. Personally, I blame Mike as he had the list of roads in his pocket, but I suppose that’s not really fair as we were on the right road – the A702 – just heading in the wrong direction, and I missed the sign too. We did have a lovely, if tiring, ride up this road for quite a few miles – I’ve rarely seen any countryside so beautiful. It was just a pity that this was slightly marred by the fact we had done a long slow painful uphil for almost 10 miles in the wrong direction. So, back we rode towards Elvenfoot to be picked-up by Jayne and the support-vehicle (Mike’s car), and then taken back to the B&B.

This was where the 3rd incident occured. While driving down the A74(M), Mike noticed that the shadow from the bikes didn’t look right. On checking, we found that my cycle helmet, which held my newly puchased glasses, my only decent riding gloves, and my iPod, was hanging precariously from the handle-bars. Fortunately, all ended well with a quick and brief stop on the hard shoulder to rescue said items before they became 21st century road-kill (how I would have continued without my iPod I’d hate to think!).

Fortunately, the day ended on a real high as the B&B in which Mike and I are staying, the March Bank Wood House in Moffat, is absolutely stunning and fantastic. I have the best loo-seat view I have ever seen (picture to follow, of course). For £30 a night, this place is a bargain and I’ll definitely be coming back!

So, onwards and upwards as they say – tomorrow we head for Glasgow and beyond, with high hopes for a good days ride, incident free!

Beer of the Day: Velvet – a chocolatey coloured beer that does indeed taste velvety. What can I say – I’m no beer expert, but it was nice, smooth and went down well with steak and chips.

Whiskey of the Day:  BLADNOCH.  Pale straw colour with orangy bouquet.  A slight liquirice aftertaste.  Lovely!  (Although our hostess did a sharp intake of breath when I asked for a little water in it…)

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