Day 12

Today started different to all the others. We went for a ride in the van. The Angel Of The North was just 2.5 miles away from our hotel. We couldn’t ride so far and miss out on a chance for a photo. We started our ride from there. The location was farther away from our destination so didn’t consider starting there cheating. The weather was a lot colder than yesterday and very cloudy. I set off in a hopeful mood just wearing my short sleeved shirt but after 5 miles relented to put my jacket on. Soon after it began to rain. We had been so lucky up to now with the weather so couldn’t really complain. It rained for around half an hour and was not too heavy. We rode through the centre of Newcastle, including over the Tyne Bridge. Soon after we got out of the city the hills hit us.

My opinion on hills was redefined today. One was so steep I nearly hit a mountain goat rolling down the hill as it couldn’t get a foothold! We were now in Northumberland. Very bleak with a cold wind and picturesque scenery if you are not battling just to breathe. We were very lucky to stumble across a small sandwich shop in a village and topped up with rolls and coffee for lunch. Karl coped with 40 miles of hills before his legs gave in. I carried on alone and it didn’t get any easier. My biggest problem was sweating a ridiculous amount climbing the hills and when I picked up speed on the down hills feeling really cold. There was just no balance.

Progress was slow but steady. Despite the hills, my average speed was close to 14mph. That doesn’t sound a lot but I was really pleased with that. I never thought I would be so pleased to see a sign on the road but the Kelso sign actually made me cheer to myself. 78 miles were completed today but they were by far the hardest 78 miles to date. Tomorrow takes us to Livingston. More of the same no doubt.

Simon