I had breakfast at 7.30 - gorgeous too! - and was away by 8.30 into mist and cool humidity. I didn't want to get cold again, so layered up with tights and my yellow Goretex top. I was toasty warm and set off south on the Old A74 and even had my lights on. This road from Beattock is the A701 initially, then becomes the B7076 right down to Gretna. It's flattish and straightish and boring, and it bears little or no resemblance to the A74 of old.
I must say, back in "the olden days" when we would drive the A74 up and down to Lancashire when we lived in Scotland, that it was a dual carriageway extension of the M6, and carried just as much traffic to Glasgow, and to Edinburgh via the A702, as the M6 did. We used to peel off at Abington in those days and head for Edinburgh. Latterly, we would head for Glasgow.
I remember the Daily Record in the 1980s having a headline to the effect - "A74 Britain's Biggest Killer Road". It was dangerous and awful. Although it was a dual carriageway, it was narrow and twisty in places, and many a bad accident would occur. Eventually, come the 1990s, we have the M74. Consequently, the Old A74 has been downgraded and is hopefully better for it!
The road was quiet generally, but every so often a knot of traffic would come thundering through. The surface was good and there is provision either side for cyclists, though the gravel and muck in the lanes made me keep on the main carriageway.
Gretna came at the end of the B7076. I was bored. The road had been featureless and uninteresting and Gretna was light relief. I pulled over by the Blacksmiths shop and texted Hilary to see if she would marry me again. I'm a softie really!
From there, I headed south again and took the new road to Carlisle. This road has been built to allow non-motorway traffic to get over the causeway into England. Before, the main road was "just" the A74 connecting M6 to M74 and was a death trap for cyclists and light traffic. Now the new road has been built, lives will be saved.
........ and I crossed the border into England.
I got a move on because I was hungry! I stopped at a city centre chippy and got stuck into steak pie and chips. Chopper was on its stand outside on the wide pavement whilst I gorged myself at a table inside. I watched the passers by looking at Chopper and reading the stickers on Trailer. Quite amusing really.
Then off again south. The weather was clearing as I climbed out onto the A6, and eventually my tights and warm top were getting too much, so I found a field gateway, climbed over carrying my shorts and light top, stripped off, and re-dressed. I'm glad no-one could see, because the sight of a sweaty bloke almost naked in a field isn't a pretty sight.
Cooler now, I finished the last dozen miles into Penrith. It was too early to book in the Brandlehow Guest House - only 15:20 or so, but there was a pub just along the road, so I propped Chopper up, took off my helmet, and sank a couple of pints!
Anyway, here I am in my room. I seem to have been given an upgrade, the owner said that it would do them a favour. Dunno why, I can only guess that it's because of Morrisons - the supermarket.
I was chatting in the pub, and it seems that the Morrisons in Penrith is/was the most busiest in the country and it burnt down! The company has pulled all the stops out to get it rebuilt and so there are many contractors in the town filling up the B+Bs. This probably has something to do with why I had a deal of trouble finding accommodation in Penrith, and possibly why I have an upgrade.
Tomorrow is another day. I have 80 miles to ride to Leyland, and the first leg is over Shap Fell. Going south is easier than going north, but I still have to climb to 1500ft. From the bottom via Kendal, the route is level all the way, so I only have one hurdle to get over.
Anyway, here's a movie of today's highlights.
Some more stats:
54.18 miles - 407.83 miles from JOG
Sat in the saddle for 5:04:00
2246ft total ascent
10.7mph average moving speed
Another few stats:
Nearly half way!
I've been pedalling for 41hrs and 17mins and climbed 17,555ft and consumed over 30,000 calories. (That's a lot of chips)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your comments.
Off now for a beer or two and a meal.
Regards and TTFN