Sunday, June 04, 2006

Day 11 - Langholm

I’ve discovered today why Martin is so tired. He’s cycling backwards. He must be. He called from a payphone at Melmerby at midday to ask me to top up the credit on his phone, and I asked him if he’d seen anything unexpected along the route. Nothing. How could he have missed it? We drove back to retrieve the sign this afternoon, and in daylight it was visible from a full quarter of a mile before reaching it. So he must either have been cycling backwards, or with his eyes closed.
A campsite at Langholm is the finish point today, after clocking up another 72.61 miles. Backwards. Martin says his legs feel that he should be at John O’Groats by now.
Martin had had a good day today, albeit one of mixed emotions. Telling him he’d missed the sign didn’t help, but being so close to home and able to see the Lakeland fells (which was the highlight of today), including Hopegill Head, which is right on our doorstep; crossing the C2C and Reivers routes which he cycled with his brother last year, and knowing that he was leaving it all behind, was hard. Crossing the border into Scotland was another landmark point, though, and the knowledge that Peter Hargreaves now owes him the full £15 (£5 for each country) spurred him on!
This morning he met Val James cycling home to Holmfirth, who had camped at Dufton, and spoke of a geology weekend based there, which included a talk and a guided walk on the fell. This rang a bell, as Martin’s friend Ian Tyler, who owns Keswick Mining Museum with his good wife Jean, does these talks and walks. Coincidentally, it was he whom she had been listening to the night before. Small world. Even smaller, Martin happened to bump into him just along the road! Both were as surprised as each other, but Martin said it was really good to see him.
Beyond Dufton he met Pat Stephenson, who cycled with Martin to Melmerby, where she stopped for a cuppa. She met up with him again at Renwick, and they cycled together until Hethersgill, above Brampton. He said it was great to have the company of another human being, taking his mind off the negative things, and it made the miles fly by. Pat kindly sent me the above picture.
His knee is painful every now and then, but he’s applying ‘Mint-ease’ roll-on, which was given to him by Peter Teisen, and says it’s good stuff. His ‘system’ has settled down in the last 2 or 3 days – he now thinks it could have been due to the water in a certain area of the country. Contrary to his projected thoughts, he is not getting fitter as he is going along, maybe due to the cumulative effects of the short sleeps, distances covered and the weight he is carrying. His friend Heb pushed the bike for a bit yesterday and was amazed how heavy it was. (And he’s a strong lad!)


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