Challenge No.3 of 2022 was here for me - this time it was time to swap the fell shoes for two wheels and cycle across England in just a day...
Sometime around Spring 2022 I was out on a ride with a pal of mine and he made a throw away comment along the lines of 'I've wanted to cycle the C2C in a day for a while', and I probably immediately thought 'that sounds good'. It was about 2 days later I think I told Adam I'd managed to rope my super-supportive wife in to driving over to the North East to get us after the ride, and all we had to do was pick a date.
A date was picked and a few training rides were thrown in, but with all my training time really being focused on running the Lakes, Meres and Waters I personally didn't get any major rides in. I was going to be relying on the 'Engine' and the ability to just turn the pedals for as long as it'd take. Alas, the date we chose (28th August) soon came around and before we knew it we were dipping our tyres in the sea at Whitehaven.
At 6am, we set off ready for an adventure.
It was a perfect morning, and the forecast for the day was pretty epic too. We'd lucked out big time! Light winds, slightly overcast, but some sunshine too. The day played out as expected weather wise, apart from a bit of rain coming off the Pennines, and maybe a little too much sun on one of the climbs, but we knew better to complain.
The early KM's dropped quickly, and we managed to catch a gorgeous sunrise as we climbed above Whitehaven. We dropped into Loweswater and spun our way through Lorton towards the first big climb - Whinlatter. This is a pass that Adam knows intimately as it used to be on his commute, and I have ridden it a few times. It fell easily and then we enjoyed our first big descent and the easiest KMs of the route so far.
We got through a sleepy Keswick and enjoyed a quiet K2T railway ride. This was followed the climb up and over Scales and then we were off towards Penrith via Greystoke. We cleared the Lakes in just a few hours, feeling great and like we were getting somewhere.
Our next target was Hartstide. This is the biggest climb on the route and after some weaving around we finally had it in our sights. It was getting quite warm now as it was approaching midday but we got stuck into the climb and actually both agreed it wasn't as gruelling as expected. My wife Naomi, and my children were at the summit car park playing the support role which was very much welcomed, and needed as we were craving some proper food.
The summit of Hartside was our 97th KM, so we were just under halfway of our 210km version of the C2C. We blasted it down the other side and psyched ourselves up for the following 'three' big climbs across the Pennines before the flatter stuff kicks in. Now, I don't know the route too intimately and I don't think it's too beneficial to try dig into the ultra specifics for this whilstestop blog of our day, but what I will say is escaping the Pennines is tough! We kept thinking we were getting to the top of one of the 'three' climbs to then see on our GPX profile we hadn't shifted, we were simply just undulating along before a bigger descent would kick in. There were of course some highlights, such as the 8km long descent which we managed to cover in what felt like no time at all.
By the time we reached the top of the final major climb we'd covered about 3000m of climbing or thereabouts. We were both feeling a bit beaten. For Adam, it was a head cold that was giving him a kicking, and for me my hands felt super tender from holding the bars. Oh, and my foot and ass hurt! I tried to keep as positive as I could though, knowing that we really were going to get this done, it was just a matter of time.
As you escape the Pennines you get to enjoy some more road, followed by many miles of cycle paths. Some of this was rugged which was fun on a road bike, but most was tarmac or a soft gravelly type of cover. The KMs continued to drop, but not as fast as we would have liked at this stage. We were certainly feeling it. We got into the centre of Newcastle and had about 20kms to go. We dodged the pedestrians along the riverside and were then on a seemingly never ending journey along the side of the river. A slight route cock up at one point led us carrying our bikes up a big staircase back onto a railway line which certainly sucked!
As the distance remaining hit single figures we both got a shot of adrenaline and excitement and things all seemed to fire back up. And then, we saw the sea! We'd made it to Tynemouth, we just had to get to our friends and family who were ready to cheer us in. And so, with one final freewheel down the slipway, we hit the sand and carried our bikes to the water so we could dip the tyres. This marked the end of an epic adventure of just two mates having a bash and on this occasion winning. I enjoyed this over my recent endeavours which have been meticulously planned and trained for.
In the end we rode 209.5km, completed 3500m ascent and it took us 11 hours 35 minutes. We amazingly had zero mechanicals.
Watch a short video of the day here:
Enjoying an Athletic Brewing Co beer at the end. Well earnt.