521 miles down / 435 to go
27,445 ft of climbs (94% of Mt Everest at 29,096 ft)
We headed to Preston to the Marquis Garage and were greeted by the staff - wow, what a welcome! We were treated to teas and bacon sandwiches and one of the gang had tackled LEJOG himself a few years ago raising money for MS. I really can't thank the Marquis gang enough and we've grown quite attached to Herbie Swift - it's a cracking motorhome.
We set off around 11:15, our latest start but in good spirits after a great Marquis send off. Another slow puncture for me evened up the score to 2-2, it's the same as the last so we changed the tyre as well as the inner tube.
We wound north towards Lancaster through mainly farmland. The fields stank of freshly sprayed slurry, flies filled the air and made a tap tap noise as they bounced against our helmets. I managed to inhale one and after a coughing fit I decided to clench my teeth as I breathed to stop the rest of the swarm joining!
Brendon and I took up singing, much to the bemusement of the locals. Ring of Fire became the theme tune of the ride, quite fitting, the backsides have had better days - der der da da da daaaah, der der da da da daaaah!
For once there were no injury concerns, so we piled through the flat approaches to Lancaster. But perhaps I spoke too soon.....
The right knee had not raised even a whisper and whilst my right achillies was mumbling discontent, it hadn't got anywhere near the shrieking complaints of previous days. It was now time, at about 30 miles, for my the inside thigh on my left leg, it felt initially like a small tweak, the kind of injury you run off, so we pressed on.
As time wore on the tweak got more and more painful and I was struggling to pedal. I gave myself a bit of a talking to, adjusted my cleats, gave the knee a brief massage but nothing seemed to be making a difference. The pain grew as I pedalled on and as it did so, I get increasingly angry, frustrated and upset. I'd cycled nearly 2,000 miles in training and not had one niggle, I'd worked hard for this and this just wasn't meant to happen. I began to think about Brendon completing the ride on his own, maybe if I pulled out of the rest of the day I could see a physio and get back on track later. Perhaps it had finally beaten me after all? Rubbish; this just wasn't the plan, there was too much at stake, the reason I was doing this was far too important, why couldn't my body play ball?
The first feed stop couldn't come soon enough at 48 miles, I wa having to get off and push the bike up the hills it was so painful. The girls were really excited to see us and have a surprise, some megaphones to shout encouragement with. I just needed some time on my own to get control of my emotions.
Back on Herbie Swift we got a heat pack on my leg (thanks to the Wilkinsons!), Carla massaged my thigh which nearly had me on the ceiling, it was tender and very sore, but perhaps it had just got a very nasty knot. We were doubtful, but hoping for the best.
I'm wasn't beaten yet, I couldn't give up. We pedalled off towards Windermere from the first feed stop and the slice of heaven that is The Lake District. It really is idyllic, if you have never been you really ought to, make sure you take your walking shoes or a good bike or better still, both!
We headed up to Ambleside, climbed up from Grasmere and in to Keswick. The views of the fells and meres were amazing and although the knee was still painful, it had eased a little, so it must have been a knot and not a strain - hurrah! We arrived in Keswick slightly after the support crew, we'd made good progress.
All too soon we've passed through the Lake District and were making our way towards Carlisle and the end of the day's ride, just as well as it'd gone 9pm and was starting to get dark.
Despite the challenges, I was really pushing my body to its limit, another good day's cycling was done. The next day we due to head into Scotland via Gretna.
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