Total mileage: 85
Terrain: Hills – Sustained high climbing
Today was a hard, hard day in the saddle. We cycled for 13 hours over some of the toughest terrain of the trip and ended up pulling in to the camp ground after dark. That was not great as the campsite was on a major road and the traffic was unrelenting.
After a sterling breakfast and a generous contribution to the cycling fund by Mark, we started the log slog. The countryside was undulating to varying degrees of punishment. We had our first encounter of inclement weather, with a sudden downpour in mid hill climb. Although we sported out waterproof jackets, the temperature was sufficiently warm as to make us all rather clammy within moments of donning our Gortex.
The landscape was very similar to Devon with perhaps more sheep. We travelled via Hereford, a rather non-descript town, then northwards to Ludlow, Craven Arms and Church Stretton. We side stepped Shrewbery and headed over to Oswestry, turning north east to Middleton, where we camped.
13 hours cycling is tough and the setting sun was stressful as none of us had decent lights as we had not intended to cycle in the evenings. We also got lost which cost us precious time and added another 8 miles to our ride. However, over coming the challenge was really rewarding. None of us were up for more than eating, washing and then sleep. Although we were quite jubilant, none of us had enough energy to share our enthusiasm.
I will remember the day in particular as it was out longest day in the saddle for the whole trip. Although 85 miles might not seem that far to some, you have to remember that we were on heavy bikes, with large loads, cycling through very hilly terrain. Add to that the fact that both Mary and I were suffering from knee injuries and were knocking back pain killers periodically; I was really chuffed with the day’s achievements.