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Cartmel, 5 June 2012

June 17, 2012

Mid table there’s nothing much on my fork
It’s alright though ‘cos I can go for my walk
Around Cartmel, mathematically safe
Mathematically Safe

Walking up Orrest Head in the morning, I’m visited by the troubling thought of Nigel Blackwell hearing what we’re doing, taking a dim view, and recording a new double album consisting entirely songs made up of British place names. In order to fling off this curse, we aim to spend the day drinking in diverse taverns in Cartmel.

This initially involves a stop in Bowness, where, while locking up our bikes, we have large scones pressed upon us by enthusiastic volunteers from the Christian Centre. I can’t finish mine, and have to sneak off down a back street so the Christians can’t see me throw it away. We then visit Action Replay records where Nick explains what we’re doing to his old boss David, who’s bemused but encouraging, and gives us some tips on local roads.

Despite the first drizzle of the weekend, and the melodrama of Nick’s first puncture (worryingly, we realise neither of us are still entirely sure how to re-attach a wheel after replacing an inner tube) there’s some fantastic cycling, with the sort of hills that make me wonder how fast your heart has to beat before something bad happens to it.
At the top of Height Road, we’re rewarded with views over Grange-over-Sands, and then a descent into Cartmel. As we turn right to cross the bridge over the M6, Nick remarks that my hand signals “look really gay” and that I’m “the John Inman of hands signals”. Rising above his casual homophobia I race on ahead, but find myself trying to indicate my direction in a more heterosexual manner at the next junction.

We do enough wandering to satisfy the Judging Panel that we’ve undertaken a “walk / Around Cartmel” then look for somewhere to leave our bikes. I attempt to lock mine to an ideally sized railing, before Nick points out that we’re on the racecourse, and that it may not be the best place to lock a bicycle.

At the Royal Oak we celebrate ticking off our final destination of the weekend, although Nick is strangely gloomy – the puncture seems to have cast a shadow over the final stage of our trip. He perks up considerably at the Engine Inn in Cark, where they have one of those internet jukeboxes onto which we download the Editor’s Recommendation EP and play it in its entirety, belting out a particularly fine ‘Vatican Broadside’, to celebrate the conclusion of a successful first stage.

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