“The concrete jungle” Day 8: Carnforth to Warrington

Our accommodation for last night was the YHA hostel at Arnside overlooking the northern edge of Morecombe Bay. An Edwardian building, about 8 miles west of Carnforth, the hostel was very well run with a friendly atmosphere. It even had a licensed bar! Those whiskies went down nicely didn’t they Kev? We were in a 4 bed dorm but with no 4th guest, we had the room to ourselves. Being the smallest, Kev ‘won’ the top bunk and we settled down to an evening of chatter and lots of laughs. By 9:30, Jer was staring at the insides of his eyelids and it wasn’t long before the talking faded.

We started this morning with porridge and a cup of tea before packing our things in the van and setting off back to Carnforth for the start point. This is where we also said goodbye to Kev who was taking the next train back to Salisbury. Thanks Kev, it was good to see you. Kev sent us a text later in the day and not content with raising £500, he got chatting to a guy on the train who was so touched by Jer’s challenge that he gave him £20! Kev had no sponsorship form with him either!

The route today would largely take us down the A6 and A49 to Warrington through the towns of Lancaster, Preston and Wigan. The predicted mileage is around 60 and the weather forecast is…wait for it…rain. Oh goody!

The short cycle to Lancaster was mostly urban with only short glimpses of countryside. We both joined a train of vehicles through Lancaster and at one point Jer overtook me as it took more than 20 minutes to get through rush hour traffic before seeing ‘daylight’ on the other side. For the next 10 miles or so towards the first stop at 19 miles, it was a mixture of suburban and village scenes with some open countryside. At least the road was flat and we only encountered moderate traffic once Lancaster had been left behind. But it was raining hard and it wasn’t going to stop any time soon. I knew Jer would have his head down and crunching miles behind. The saving grace was that there was little in the way of scenery to miss.

Despite the rain, Jer was in good spirits when he caught up with me at our first stop just outside of Garstang. A pot noodle and a cereal bar later, Jer wasted little time in getting back on his bike and setting off for another 20 miles. Preston was next and a bit less traffic to follow through the town now that rush hour was over. The urban sprawl finally gave way and next was a series of small towns and villages straddling the A49. I stopped just  beyond Coppull on the outskirts of Wigan at 40 miles.

We decided to put in a stop between Wigan and Warrington and then another on the far side of Warrington so that we could pick up the route from there in the morning and be certain of missing any rush hour traffic. Jer finally finished the leg after nearly 6 hours of cycling and 60.5 miles. A lowly average (for Jer) but navigating the towns and cities that were strewn along his route, and the persistent rain, took it’s toll. It wasn’t the most scenic of journeys either and I’m pretty sure that it won’t feature in Jer’s most memorable days of the challenge.

After 8 days of cycling, Jer has passed through the halfway stage – a fantastic achievement in itself. And he’s done it in some style. if my maths is correct, he has cycled 525 miles since John O’Groats, an average of over 65 miles a day – quite astonishing.

Going into the second week has prompted both of us to reflect on the highs and lows of the days behind us and the reasons why it’s all being done.  Inevitably, thoughts turn to Abbi and I know that in the brief pauses between planning the route for the day ahead, looking up at a mountain range or staring down a valley, Abbi is not far from Jer’s thoughts. On miserable wet and windy days, I’m sure it’s for this reason that he ploughs on at a relentless pace. The support from all our family and friends, and even friends and friends, is truly humbling and there is no question that it spurs him on.

Tomorrow, Jer cycles to Ironbridge. We are promised better weather and open countryside….we’ll see.

One Response to ““The concrete jungle” Day 8: Carnforth to Warrington”

  1. Paul and elaine says:

    Keep it up guys! Great progress and some nice cycling ahead.
    Enjoy YHA Ironbridge it is really nice.
    Elaine and Paul (Helmsdale)

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