The idea of cycling coast to coast sounds lovely when you spread it out over a few days, staying in b&b's and enjoying a few beers between stages - but to take on doing it in one day with 15,000ft of climbing sounded like a big challenge I wanted to be part of.
4am Saturday 27th June, my alarm went off. Straight into 'lets do it mode' - this was quickly turned into panic mode when the hotel fire alarm went off at 4:15am (milk, kettle & Sheehan!!) yawn, that certainly woke us all up!!!
5:45am tyres pumped, nerves in full effect and adrenaline pumping it was time to start. What a better way to start then to go straight up hill!! It was a gorgeous morning, very still with a slight low lying mist and hedges were lined with men watering the shrubs, hilarious!!
Around the 10 mile mark, we approached our first climb of the day 'Hardknott Pass' - myself, Tim, Shaun, Johnny & Tony were riding together, so what a better way to start the ride with a quick selfie near the red telephone box, this must be one of most iconic landmark of the pass, signifying hell is about to start!!
I was feeling very nervous about this climb, I have driven it a few times so I knew the corners were tight and the terrain was challenging so I already had it in my head that I would start riding, then I would walk the hard part. Which is exactly what I did (I got off my bike not long after the photographer - I couldn't have a photo of me walking!!) my tip for anyone walking up is to take off your shoes and walk in your socks, a lot easier, just watch out for all of the sheep shit! I then got back on my bike on the last section - one thing to note which no one warned me about was the swarms of mosquitoes, Jesus I was covered in them. I managed to come away with only a few bites, but others weren't so lucky. I met a few blokes from Scunhorpe along the way, special mention to Mr Jackson from 53Eleven, nice to meet you. So at the top, the epic descent was now in view - and boy what a view it was into cockley beck, gorgeous. The descent was very challenging, I never came off my brakes,, the corners were so tight and the terrain was lumpy with potholes. You had to have your wits about you, I have never been so pleased to get down safely, but the arm pump was hell. Jesus, my hands / wrists were killing me! Cockley beck was stunning, I was smiling from ear to ear - I love the lakes and this was my perfect ride.
Cockley beck soon came to an end and bang, next hill Wrynose Pass. I was having this one, nothing was stopping me, I made every effort possible to ensure I did this climb and I did it! Very pleased and it was an enjoyable climb and I loved the descent, another spell of arm pump, but a lot easier to ride. The views once again were amazing with the Langdale Pikes in full view - again smiling ear to ear. I kept thinking, we must come back to the Lakes for a bike tour, I've done so much walking here but it would be fab to do a long ride here. ( mental note to get one planned!!)
The miles were undulating and just flying by, before we knew it we'd arrived at Crowholme to catch the ferry across Windermere. Perfect timing as we were the last group on the ferry and we'd re-grouped with the other BDCC riders (apart from Paul who had caught the first ferry and Tony who was a few minutes after meaning he caught the next ferry) it was lovely to regroup and catch up. Not so great to find out that Steve Johnson had a crash going round a corner too fast and lost it just before getting on the ferry. Battered and bruised and looking very sore - the bike was not damaged and he was very lucky. We were all very worried about him, but he got back on his bike and continued to the first feed station at Kendal.
Arriving at Kendal was fab. The support crew were in full cheer, and that was the first leg ticked off. Quick fill of the water bottles (both were empty as it was hot!!) banana in my back pocket, quick sandwich and I was back on my bike. I don't like hanging around, as you start to seize up and I was in the zone!! (Johnny only had 2 cheese sandwiches, I was impressed!) Next leg was 25 miles to Hardraw. As I left the feed station, the support crew said 'Dan Leaning said there is a long climb straight after here so prepare yourself!' …. Prepare myself, Jesus this was a bloody long climb, no idea of length but it went on for ages - my type of climb though, loved it and the descent - wow, great fun. I'd started to build confidence on the descents now as the terrain was a lot smoother. Before I knew it, we'd arrived at the Yorkshire Dales.
Another area of hills I have grown to love. The route to Hardraw wasn't as challenging but the undulations were gorgeous. I say wasn't challenging, there were still a few tough hills, but they manageable if you paced them well. I was on my alone for a lot of this stretch, it was near to the next station where Tim caught me up (he'd stopped longer at feed station no 1) again I met some nice people, one guy from Skegness who had done this c2c a few years ago, so chatted with him for a bit about what was ahead. We kept passing each other throughout the next couple of stages. This was the case for quite a few riders, we all ended up having some great banter, especially the Cappuccino guys, they made me chuckle!!!!! Great to see Rob tagged on the back of the peloton at one stage too. Well done Rob.
Before I knew it, I'd arrived at Hardraw - great to see a few BDCC riders and Chris Dixon from Barton enjoying a shandy (sod!!) quick refuel and back on the bike. Again left the feed station and bang, straight into a hill. I was beginning to get used to these well planned stops lol. The next stage was to Tunstall, I was completely on my own, I had a few BDCC riders in front and few behind so I knew if anything went wrong, I had back up. This sections was fairly flat compared to previous sections, Strava says 1414ft of elevation. I'd done part of this stretch, so I knew the roads. Just gorgeous! Had a little chuckle to myself near Aysgarth after the last visit and Roy's near accident! The stretch is lovely, the area is still lined with bunting and yellow bikes from the Tour de France, you feel quite proud riding around such an iconic area. Next stop Tunstall, again it arrived quicker than I thought…. (Before leaving Seascale, I'd covered my garmin screen up with gaffer tape so I couldn't see the miles or what speed I was doing, I'd gone to enjoy this ride and that's exactly what I did)
No messing at Tunstall, same routine, fill bottles, quick snack and off - the support crew & were here drinking beer!!!!! (mmmm the cider looked fab - quod grabbed a few mouthfuls, he was more than ready for it) They all looked to be having fun, even the bus driver Jack loved it! I headed off near Sheehan, Roy, Rob and Kelvin. Stayed near them for a bit, but I wasn't busting a gut as I knew we'd still got some elevation to climb and wanted to leave enough in the tank. Next leg took us towards Northallerton, an area I know well, but never biked. This was fairly flat and spent a lot of it on my own, met a guy called Tim from Birmingham, he rode with me for a bit, think he felt sorry for me that my crew had left me. That hadn't left me, again I knew who was in front and who was behind, I was happy. During this stage a guy informed me we'd done 2 thirds, so I knew 50 miles to got, I was now into my longest ride to date and I'd broken the back of it and still smiling. Special mention Rob and Scott from Kirton Lindsey Cycling Club, lovely to ride with you both hope you great day.
Next stop and the last stop was Ingelby, same routine as before and back on the bike. Few BDCC riders at the stop again, great to catch up. Myself, Shaun, Johnny, Quod and Tim decided we stay near each other for the last leg, we knew it was going to be tough, someone told us 5,000ft of elevation left to do! Gulp! The legs were feeling it now. It was all about just spinning the legs and taking us all home safely. We didn't stay together but we knew who was behind and around the corner. Great to have this support, you mentally help each other when the demons start to take over and the banter helped keep moral up. The last leg of the ride was bloody tough, just when you think 'is this the last hill' another hill turns up, then another, then another. Id caught Johnny up before the last hill, he'd just been told that Limber Hill was not far away - he wasn't kidding. What a short sharp beast this was, I made it though. If it wasn't for the other two girls doing it, I'd of probably of walked, but my competitive head kicked in - so chuffed I did that and the legs managed it! The best part of this hill was knowing at the top it was 6.5 miles to Whitby and it was all downhill. I could see the sea and felt ecstatic. Wow!!! My legs felt good, so I managed to pick up the pace a bit, I was nearly done. Arriving in Whitby was an amazing feeling, I would've expected to have tears, but I couldn't stop smiling. I was buzzing (the caffeine was helping) 150 miles Coast to Coast, boom I'd nailed it. The finish line was electric and lined with the BDCC support crew, partner, friends and parents. I couldn't stop smiling, I'd love every minute of that 150 miles, the weather and views made it for me. A few sweaty hugs and kisses and straight into my bag for a can of Strongbow - bliss.
Well done to everyone who took part in this epic challenge. I had a fabulous weekend, laughed a lot and very proud to be part of Brigg Cycling Club.
Finishing times as follows...
- Daz Beel - 11:44:45
- Paul Carvill - 08:48:53
- John Collingwood - 11:54:24
- Ian Creek - 09:42:30
- Royce Goulby - 11:54:02
- Jamie Griffin - 11:29:38
- Ali Hindle - 11:50:55
- Steve Johnson - 11:26:40
- Lee Kinder - 11:33:51
- Tim Long - 11:45:29
- Rob Lyons - 11:25:36
- Ju Newell - 11:24:40
- Sheehan Quirke - 11:25:59
- Gary Riddough - 09:38:04
- Tony Sheppard - 13:11:25
- Shaun Wilson - 11:47:55
- Derrick Kent - 11:09:15
- Roy Brumpton - 11:32:17
- Kelvin Spriggs - 11:32:20
- Dan Leaning - 10:36:35
- Rob Ayton - 13:39:16
- Andrew Davy - 15:13:48
A big thank you goes to our family and friends for the support during the training and another big thank you for all of the kind donations to LIVES £1585.00 to date - it's made the miles worth it.