Today was a tough day no matter how you slice it. The ride was 74 miles (119 kms) and 5250 ft (1600 m) of climb. However it really wasn’t the distance or the climb which made it tough. Maybe it was the 6 miles (10 kms) off road trail which was maybe the roughest road I have ever ridden, which was a killer. Even Surly with his 32 mm tires was complaining about how sharp the rocks were and how many mud puddles there were, which made it so tough. Or maybe it was the constant straight into your face wind which seemed to cut right to the bone which made it tough. Although it was only about 48 F (10C) it shouldn’t have been as cold as it was. If you rode with your rain jacket on you boiled in side of it, if you took it off the wind froze you. I choose boiling. Maybe it was the hills which although there were only a couple of hills which were more than a mile in length there were an awful lot which were hills which, although short, were up to 20% grade. But maybe it was just the heavy gray sky and constant drizzle which cast a pallor over everything.
Today we visited Hadrian ’s Wall. The Romans started construction of the wall in 124 AD and completed it across England a total distance of 88 miles (142 kms) with a fort every mile in just four years. It is named after Hadrian who was the emperor of Roman at the time and who ordered it constructed. The purpose was to keep the barbarians out as they were sneaking across the border illegally and picking lettuce, working in chariot washes and doing yard work. It worked quite well for over 350 years until the Romans left England. It was huge you would love it. We stopped at the Vindolanda museum which was a huge Roman fort along the wall. The University of Western Ontario is currently doing an excavation at the site. The fort area is huge and has provided extensive insight into Roman life. Then over to the Roman Army Museum where we watched a 3D film on the Roman army (Agnes and I watched it , Patrick and Jos slept through it). The wall was originally 18 feet high and varied in thickness from 10 feet (3 m) to up to 30 feet (10 m). Today a lot of it has sunk into the ground and stones have been scavenged off it for 1600 years so it is little more than 6 feet (2 m) high. Never the less it is a very impressive site.
Tonight we are staying in the Hotel Cheviot in Bellingham. It is named after the Cheviot sheep which are raised around here. I will try and get a couple of good sheep pictures but a lot of them look pretty scruffy. Although the building is probably 300 years old the room is the absolute latest with a huge queen bed.
Tomorrow looks like an easy day with only 60 miles (100 kms) and 4900 ft (1500M) of climbing. We enter Scotland. And maybe a little sunshine and a bit of a tail wind.Terry