Last month I posted an article on my training for the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle ride. I’m pleased to report our team managed to conquer the ride last weekend despite atrocious weather.
We set off enthusiastically from Fernwood House on Friday morning loaded with enough fruit, water and chocolate bars to open a supermarket. As we travelled across the A69 towards our starting point at Whitehaven the sky grew darker and darker.
Before we disembarked from the team bus the rain was coming down heavily, driven by the strong westerly wind. As we stepped off the bus our initial enthusiasm started to wane although we managed to keep a smile on our faces for the obligatory team photo at the start.
The first 10 miles were reasonably uneventful until I got a puncture. Nobody really wants to change a tyre but especially not in the pouring rain. The team helped with the repair and we were back on our way.
Our first stop was at Whinlatter (excellent coffee and cake). We had planned to stop at Keswick for lunch, but we decided to plough on to Penrith and our first night’s accommodation.
The sky was still grey as we started day 2. The initial steep climb out of Penrith got our hearts pumping and was a good warm up for the big hills ahead. After a quick refuel in Langwathby we tackled the start of Hartside. Paul, our most experienced rider, was quickly in his stride and got to the top first. My pace was more sedate (laboured) and the sausage sandwich and tea at the summit was very welcome although we did have to shelter in the support van because of the driving rain and strong winds.
Thankfully the rain stopped, and we were able to make quick progress down Hartside to Alston. I managed to record 42mph at one point on the decent but quickly applied some brake to calm my nerves.
After lunch in Alston (sweetcorn and coconut soup – yum) we faced a relatively short section to our accommodation in Allenheads. This did however include a couple of steep (17%) climbs out of Nenthead to the highest point on the route at Black Hill.
The beer at the Allenheads Inn tasted delicious and we enjoyed an impromptu pool match against rival C2C riders.
A hearty breakfast set us up well for day 3 and thankfully the weather had started to improve. We were climbing straightaway out of Allenheads and within 90 mins we were at the foot of the fearsome Crawleyside Bank climb coming out of Stanhope. I managed to keep pedalling to the top of the climb, but it wasn’t pretty or quick.
The whole team gathered for a celebratory cake at the café at Parkhead, knowing the worst was behind us.
The 35 miles or so from the café to Tynemouth was pretty much downhill all the way and after a final lunch stop at the bottom of the Derwent Walk (Moroccan vegetable soup – delicious) we were cruising along the north bank of the Tyne through Newcastle Quayside, Wallsend and Walker. Unfortunately, one last puncture, 5 miles from the end, slowed our progress but we eventually made it to Tynemouth before a final shower of rain.
Our reception committee cheered us over the line and uncorked some celebratory fizz (thank you Mark). After 137 miles and some serious hills a fitting way to end.
The team managed to raise around £3,500 for our nominated charity (Freeman Heart & Lung Transplant Association) and the Just Giving page is still open for any late donations.