Tuesday 27 June 2017

Coast 2 Coast Bile Ride - June 17

Coast to Coast (via a few pubs)


The main story

As part of the year long  challenge I decided to take on the Coast to Coast cycle ride which is 140 miles from Whithaven in the West to Tynemouth in the East. (There is a slightly shorter route, but that ends in Sunderland - always going to go the long way). To make the logistics easier I decided to do it by joining a group of other cyclists, this should have been a really sensible option, however in hindsight choosing your riding partners carefully is time well spent, i didn't spend this time. I chose the “Plods and Bombs” annual trip (no I don’t know what it means either), organised by one of my staff; John Geoghegan and his sidekick Steven Morrison.
So, at shortly after 5am on Thursday myself and 35 other “keen” cyclist left on a bus from Consett to the start, closely followed by an 18t rigid full of bikes and a support van full of luggage laden with excessive amounts of lycra. It was about this time the rules sheet was handed out, 11 rules which had to be obeyed throughout the trip. They included, only drinking with your left hand, only pointing with your elbows, addressing Mr Morrison as “Your Honour” for the duration and always carrying your rules at all times. Pretty much a stag doo with bikes then.

After breakfast in Whitehaven the Peloton headed out for the first day of riding, crossing through the Lakes to Penrith. This involved just over 50 miles of riding with almost 4000ft of ascent including climbing over Whinlatter before dropping into Keswick for lunch then on to Penrith. The day went pretty well, although I did get a puncture at 10 miles, and showed my complete inexperience in changing them to the watching crowd. All hills were conquered without the urge to get off and walk, however I had apparently broke one of the unwritten rules and had weaved while climbing a hill! This resulted in a summons to a court session over dinner. “Your Honour” turned up with the full judge’s wig (see above), with Mr Geoghegan as prosecutor. As you will probably expect the court session was pretty much “you are guilty, until you are proved guiltier”, so then the sentence was passed, a lovely ½ pint of chilli sauce, made with the finest Scotch Bonnet Chilli’s topped with a raw egg. Let’s just say it didn’t last long. On a positive note, I am sure John will love the 10-year-old Hino he will be getting to replace his brand new 17 plate Mercedes Actros (Trucks for those who don’t know).
Day 2 was a little shorter at just under 35 miles, but still with almost 4000ft of climbing including Hartside Pass. The views from the top are spectacular, except when we got there it was shrouded in mist. After passing through Alston and into Nenthead there is another nasty climb out of the village before a long ride down to our overnight in Allenheads. Accommodation this night was in a dorm with 4 bunk beds and 6 other riders, most of which had eaten spicy food for the previous 48 hours and drank their own body weight in beer. This was not conjusive with getting any well needed sleep. On a positive note I did narrowly avoid a second Court Session. I committed the crime of forgetting my rules, so when the rules check was called I managed to steal the fixture list for the Allendale Darts League from the notice board in the pub and hold it up, no one noticed. Sorry to any Allendale Darts players who have no idea who they are now playing this week in the league.
Day 3 was the final push from Allenheads to the coast, but not without more hills. The start of the days was straight into a climb out of Allenheads before dropping down to Stanhope and the hardest climb of the trip, Crawleyside Bank, just over 2 miles and near 1000ft of climbing to the cafĂ© at Parkhead. The first mile averaged 10% gradient, which doesn’t sound much, but I suggest you try cycling it with a hangover and little sleep. After Parkhead there is a steady run down back to Consett, so near to my home, but still 30 miles to go before the coast. All the riders regrouped and we annoyed all the motorists of my home town by driving through in one large group before heading off to Newcastle. The pace to the Quayside was as quick as I have ever done it, joining 4 other riders we averaged over 17 mph, which for a large amateur on a heavy bike, is pretty good going.

After rehydrating on the Quayside at Weatherspoons we all headed for the last push to the coast, 140 miles, 10000ft of climbing, one puncture, ½ pint of chilli, several beers and very little sleep. At the end as is tradition having dipped the back wheel in the Irish Sea at the start, the front wheel was dipped in the North Sea. We didn’t all make it, 3 of the 36 starters ended up in hospital after falls, fortunately nothing major, a couple of broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and some severe grazing - it is dangerous sport cycling.

Having heard about my fundraising the other lads generously clubbed together and donated £300 towards my fundraising, which is a great effort. Big thanks to John and Stephen (Your Honour), for putting on a great trip. They managed to put on a bus to the start, 2 nights’ accommodation, dinner and breakfast twice, all for £110, exceptional value. Hard work for 3 days but a good laugh and another challenge completed.

Now for a summer of training and mountain climbing. Next race is Copenhagen in September. Until then thanks to everyone for their support so far, I will send the next update after my trip to Denmark.

The link to the Just Giving page is below. Have a great summer.

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