After yesterday’s battle, ‘Don’t stop believing’ rang out this morning! The day dawned a little damp but it soon dried up. The roads were flat and wide and today we made good time throughout, which was lucky as today was the day my mother was waiting at the other end to see and hear what on earth I had been up to. I grew up in Scotland and have only been South for 10 or so years but I had forgotten the lay of the dramatic landscape and there is no better way to view it than on a bicycle. Having passed Carlisle we were soon in Gretna Green and crossing into Scotland. It hardly seems possible that we have put a whole country behind us by pedal power alone.
There are a lot of broken riders now, mainly with taped up knees or achilles. Many pain killers of varying strengths are being consumed and some riders can barely walk. Everyone is looking slightly dishevelled and rather more tired but today’s thankfully flattish day is welcome and we are all in to the camp at Hamilton well before the cut off.
My mother is waiting with dark chocolate, jojoba oil – don’t ask – and pain killers. She stares at us in confusion and awe, unable to comprehend what her crazy daughter and her new found friends are up to this time. It is fun to show her around the camp and show her how we are living. She likes the friendliness and camaraderie which is openly evident between the riders and the fact that I was being fed well of course. I encouraged her to stay for the briefing with the promise of the usual entertaining, rousing chat from Mack, the risqué jokes from Steve from Halfords and the usual stirring guest appearance by some legendary and encouraging medal winner of some sort....big mistake. Of all the briefings, this was not the one I wanted my mother to be sitting in. As the wind tried to rip the roof off the marquee, and the rain started to fall, Mack, James Cracknell, Tim Reddish and Andy Cook talked us through the next day. The weather, they announced, was coming. Tomorrow was going to be a very tough one indeed. The already heady 127 miles had been stretched to 134 due to a landslide and to top that the rain and wind were going to attack us as we tried to cross over Rannoch Moor and attempt to conquer Glen Coe. James advised us on nutrition and kit, Andy on pacing. The start would be open from 530am so that the slower riders could start early and hopefully make it before nightfall. They all appealed to us to help each other, the main aims of the day were to keep everyone safe and get as many across the finish line as possible. Definitely, they said, a day to invoke the Threshold motto, ‘More is in You.’ My mother tried to kidnap me then and there.
So, having thought that Day 5 had been the possible deal breaker, it seemed the worst was yet to come. I said goodbye to my poor stricken mother, reassuring her I would be fine whilst wondering yet again, what I had let myself in for and whether I really would make it after all.