4 October 2010
The daunting undertaking involved a gruelling 143-mile cycle from Whitehaven on the Irish Sea Coast to Tynemouth on the North Sea Coast, across the North Lake District and Penines. Although challenging, the team was pushed on by some of England’s most stunning scenery.
The team were positive before the start, setting off from Whitehaven on a steady 20-mile incline toward the North Lake District.
Once into the countryside the team took regular breaks to admire the view, and rest those tired legs no doubt.
Equipment failure was expected along the way, but some quick roadside maintenance ensured the team were on their way sooner than you could say, ‘just change the inner tube’.
The delightful Greystoke Cycle Café made for the perfect afternoon rest stop. It came recommended by Alistair Sawday and was tried and tested for three hours by the team’s support driver (we hear the lemon drizzle cake was his favourite!). After plenty of tea and cake, and of course another inner tube change, the exhausted riders set off into the darkening night for a final push toward Kirksowald. The team finally arrived after 66 miles and 10 hours in the saddle for a well-deserved steak dinner.
Day two was always going to be the toughest of the three, with an assortment of long tough climbs made harder by the wet, cold conditions. The first big climb of the day saw the team ascend from 300 feet to 1900 feet in the space of seven miles. A quick bite at England’s highest café went someway to warming up the riders before they descended into Alston ahead of some the most punishing climbs of the entire trip, made all the more difficult by the lashing wind and rain.
Toward the end of day two, the county count quickly mounted: Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham, the pace becoming electric as the increasingly downhill terrain provided long descents after the cold and wet climbs earlier in the day.
Gluttons for punishment, the team decided to tackle the 17°C gradient climb into the North Penines at the end of an exhausting day to ensure their final day on the bikes was mostly a downhill affair.
By day three the bikes were standing up to the challenge.
The riders less so...
With the support van ready to navigate the main sealed roads, the riders prepared to tackle a stunning off-road section across the Penines with one eye on the clouds. With everyone’s legs conditioned after 18 ½ hours of peddling, the first 20 miles of the day were covered in a lightning 1 ½ hours.
Only a technical hitch in Newcastle slowed the team’s rapid progress toward the west coast.
The riders arrived at 1pm with ample time to spare for the return drive to London.
The vital stats:
Distance covered - 143 miles
Time taken - 22 ¾ hours
Punctures - 4
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