I have prepared for the coast to coast cycle challenge for the last 6 months. It was a perfectly sized goal to keep me motivated exercising and training regularly. In the end, completed without too much difficultly at all. The most arduous sections being primarily due to the weather conditions. Nonetheless, completion over two days with a route of 240 km in length and 3481 metres of climbing all in 11 hours of cycling.
An extremely cold and windy Whitehaven harbour was surrounded by seagulls and swans marked the start of the challenge just before 8am. Not long afterwards just as I was warming up and established on the route I got a puncture… only 8 km in – hopefully not a sign of things to come.
The wind kept blowing and the overcast grey clouds rolled in off the fells as I neared Keswick. Face numb from the wind chill I pedalled on to some pleasant breaks in the clouds above allowing pleasing views of the western fells.
From Keswick it started to rain, combined with the wind making it extremely cold. With over 60 km already done, I had the notorious climb of the old coach road ahead of me in appalling weather conditions, -2 plus wind chill with hail and sleet battering me in the face, great! Eventually I reached the sanctuary of the White Horse Inn just off the A66 for a warm by a log fire and some dinner.
Back out into the wind and sleet in the direction of Penrith and my legs began to hurt. Some intensive stretching in attempt to combat the pain before I tackled the climbs of the Pennines with Heartside top firmly in the crosshairs.
An intensified version of the experience I had had not long ago climbing up the old coach road, only this time on brilliantly exposed moorland with snow whipping all around me as I stomped on the pedals up to the summit. I could not feel my fingers, toes or face.
Cold and sore, I claimed the rewards after the summit with a stiff descent down into Garrigill where I was severely warmed back up with probably the toughest climb of the day before descending down into Nenthead to the bunkhouse for the night.
Totals – Distance: 130 km, time: 7 h, ascent: 2570 m
Awaking to a carpet of snow I had to make route adjustments instead of tackling the climbs up to Allenheads on the smaller roads. I elected to stick to the main roads, clear of snow. Although adding an extra 20 km on the route it would result in less overall climbing.
After a stiff ascent out of Nenthead; a fantastic section of road, twisting and turning descending through sprawling countryside was enjoyed before some ‘A’ road stomping (albeit with lovely views) to pick the route back up at Consett.
After a good 15 km section of disgustingly muddy (not fun on a road bike) trails down the Derwent walk, from here another 45 km or so was enjoyed into Newcastle and then along the banks of the Tyne, taking in the sights, before the last monotonous 10 km to emerge into the very beautiful but very busy, can’t breathe for people, Tynemouth.
Totals – Distance: 110 km, time: 4 h, ascent: 911 m
A great couple of days adventure cycling across some beautiful locations in the North of England, watch the video HERE.