As was quickly becoming the norm, the day started with rain, but unlike the previous day this didn't detract from the riding. However, before I could get into the epic riding, I had a small problem to solve.
When you only pack 10.5lbs for a trip, you make sacrifices. In my case, I made a bit of a blunder sacrificing proper rain gear. I got by fine on the first day, but the second day I got hammered. I was hoping day 2 was a bit of an anomaly, but I also new I couldn't get chilled like that again, so I was out with credit card in hand looking to buy a proper rain jacket. Luckily for me (I have weird luck I tell you) Keswick is an outdoor destination, and there were all sorts of 1/2 off sales. As I plunked down the 50 pounds, I told myself it was worth the money if it either a) protected me from the rain, or b) brought sunshine. Actually, especially b).
As I bought the jacket I then realized I had another problem with the 10.5 lbs pack. I had no extra room!
Lack of pack room aside, once I got going I was presented with some amazing riding as I was leaving the Lake district. To get out of Keswick, you need to take the main road, but quickly I was able to get on the Sustrans routes and ride on some amazing paths through the country side as I made my way through small towns like Mungrisdale, Moosedale, and Hesket Newmarket.
Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell
Most of the paths made their way through farmland, where you have to to continually open and close farm gates. This made for lots of interesting riding as often you would run into sheep, horses and cows while making your way.
My favourite had to be the sheep. They would often congregate on the path, then have a fit when you approached. I felt rather bad, as I figured I was giving them a heart attack. They would see you coming, then try and avoid you by hauling ass down the path. They however would never leave the path. Why? I have no frickin' clue.
At first I would stop, because I hated to to scare them. I would then try to easy my way around them assuring them that I wasn't going to eat them... yet. But being sheep they never listened. Instead, they would just head further along the path and wait for me to approach once again, in the process aggravating me to no end.
This went on for quite a while, until I finally gave up and just rode slowly down the path at them. Mooooove!
I continued along these farmland paths until I made it to the city of Carlisle, where I decided to get some fixed gear shopping done. By this point, my choice of 80 inches (50x17) gearing was really catching up. I felt like a kitten in a river riding along. I decided it was time to check the ego and find a lower gearing. However, no sooner had I made it into the city, that the heavens opened up once again. I took the cue that it meant it was time for a coffee break and a snack.
Once the rain departed I got on my mission to find a bike shop that carried track cogs. As always my luck took over as I went to grab my bike, sitting next to it was another fixie. As I admired the bike, the owner came out and we got to shooting the shit and he gave me instructions to the best shop in town for fixed gear bikes, Palace cycles.
There I met Joe another single speed/fixed gear freak and Palace wrench. After he showed me his sweet spot brand bike, I knew I was in good hands as I handed him over my well worn Surly. My luck continued to hold out as they actually had a large cog in stock (20 tooth) and my chain length was just long enough to take the big gearing. Now I was set with 63 and 80 inches at the flip of my rear wheel.
After grabbing a potato and beer, I left Carlisle and headed for the Scottish boarder.
Watch out Scotland, Here I come!
As I left I realized my guide book sucked ass as they suggested I try and ride down the main highway out of Carlisle. It didn't take me long to find an alternate route that left the city and quickly I was on a series of small byways that took me through more farmland as the sun broke for the very first time this trip.
I went down all sorts of small roads and dirt paths before entering Scotland at Canonbie. Once I entered Scotland it was as if everything changed. While I had mainly stayed on smaller roads in England, I would still run across lots of people and the odd automobile. However, the moment I entered Scotland it was like this surreal quiet descended upon the landscape.
From Canonbie all the way to Newcastleton I did not see a single living sole. Southern Scotland had this amazingly beautiful quiet. A type of quiet that lets one think about simply turning the pedals as the miles melt away under your tires. I couldn't help but think this was truly heaven on earth.
When I made it to into Newcastleton I decided to hit a pub and have a good meal. It was pretty hilarious, I had two choices, both side-by-side. One with a sign declaring "cylists welcome," the other without. Hmmmm.... which one to chose?
Afterwards, I still had a couple hours of light so I decided to continue on (since I had lost time waiting out the rain and getting my bike fixed up in Carlisle) along the road until nightfall came. I ended up making it into the quaint small community of Bonchester Bridge, where I set up camp for the night.