Carlisle to Inverness, 450 miles - Day two: Sunday 13th May

Our longest day began with a hearty full English at 08:00, and then we were soon on our way. Almos

Our longest day began with a hearty full English at 08:00, and then we were soon on our way. Almos

Our longest day began with a hearty full English at 08:00, and then we were soon on our way. Almost immediately, we settled into a good rhythm, with Dave, Graeme, Ric, Richard and I out front, followed by Colin, whilst Ken waited with Alan and Ian.

We had averaged 13.7 miles per hour on Saturday, but by the time of our first water stop, the front runners had increased the overall average to 14.3. Soon after, my bike began playing up. Initially, we thought that the chain had stretched under the pressure of pedaling, which is perfectly normal on a new bike. Dave, who knows pretty much everything there is to know about bikes, helped me to make the necessary adjustments, which we thought would stop the chain slipping and missing gears. But it didn't.

By our next stop, my gear selection was severely limited, forcing me to work harder to keep up. Despite this, our average speed had increased further to 14.6 miles per hour. This time, we removed the rear wheel, only to find the sprocket had worked itself loose. We tightened it, and pressed on.

We stopped for lunch in Dumfries soon after 12:00, having already covered 40 miles. Neil had picked a lovely spot on the edge of town, by a park overlooking a lovely lake. Amazingly, given the dark, cloudy skies, we had yet to experience any rain across the two days, and as we sat eating our sandwiches on a park bench, the sun briefly broke through.

Straight after lunch, we began climbing with vigor, and our average speed touched 15 miles per hour, which is probably the fastest overall speed we will attain throughout the trip. My bike was deteriorating and, by our next water stop, Dave and I once again took the rear wheel off, and also the bottom cogs. Having made some additional adjustments, the sprocket seemed to tighten in a truer fashion than before. Alan also managed to free my front disc, which had been rubbing against the brake pad since the morning. I had realized that something was not right, as despite pedaling downhill, I was struggling to keep up with the front group, who were free wheeling. I guess I had just been so focused upon the rear sprocket and assumed that was the problem.

The new bike is fantastic, and the cleats add so much efficiency to my pedaling. But I can't help feeling that my Marin never let me down, and it is incredibly frustrating when the chain slips and you lose momentum whilst trying to climb a hill.

The last six miles really hurt several people. Richard was struggling in the front group, as was Graeme to a lesser extent. It was left to Dave, Ric and I to lead them home. We were climbing into a strong head wind, working hard, at the end of a long day. Just outside Gatehouse of Fleet, we turned off the road through a forest, which was great fun as we hurtled downhill for the last mile, giving me a great chance to try out the front suspension.

I slept for a couple of hours from 17:00 until 19:00 and, when I woke, none of the others were anywhere to be seen. Having tried to find them, I settled instead for some fish and chips from the take away van. Whilst I was waiting, Dave, Ken and Richard appeared and we ate heartily. W then joined the others, who had decided to eat in the local pub, for a drink. So now, at 23:00, having washed some kit, I am ready for bed.

I will have to be up early to fix my bike again tomorrow. With the sprocket now fixed, I hope I will simply need to adjust the gears to make the bike run fluently again. The disc is still rubbing, so I will need to free it as we go into our toughest day.

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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