Coast 2 Coast - March 2016
Spreading light, one act of kindness at a time
Saturday, 16 April 2016 17:40

Coast 2 Coast 2016

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We set off at 6am for Workington, heading up the M6 hoping for good weather over the weekend.

Of the five 'stolen' bikes that Merseyside Police had given to us, we managed to salvage two that might be worthy of the 145 miles ahead. The stolen bikes along with the rest of the gear (which included a few tents and a BBQ) were loaded onto the support van, kindly donated for the weekend by Frankie's employer Window Repair Company. It was tight squeeze with all the cycles and equipment but we made it work. We planned for 8 or 9 cyclists (depending on age and injury) and had 10 bikes in total, including the 2 stolen ones.

We arrived into Workington at around 9am and the fact that at first we struggled to find the starting point, kind of set the trend for the rest of the trip. We eventually parked at the C2C point and began to get ready for the journey ahead. The weather was looking pretty nice and fortunately it stayed that way for the rest of the day.

DARK Coast to Coast DARK Coast to Coast

We stopped at Tesco for food... we'd travelled about a mile.

We posed for a few photos, dipped our back wheels and then were off... We stopped at Tesco for food about 8 minutes later - we'd travelled about a mile. Whilst in the cafe we met some officers and thought the gig was up... they'd see the stolen bikes and we'd have to make a run (or ride) for it. Luckily we explained what we were doing and one of the officers posed for a photo with us.

DARK Coast to CoastAfter some of us had breakfast, we set off in earnest, following the C2C route signs out of Workington and towards our destination for that day - Penrith.

After around an hour, we had the first victim of one of the stolen bikes. It was the bike's lack of suitability for the task, or maybe it was the fact some of us hadn't rode a bike for 30 years, but either way there were swollen knees and the support van had to be called in for the first (but not the last) time... when it eventually found us that is. There is a distinct lack of mobile signal in the Lake District and it made the support drivers' jobs a lot harder.

We reached Cockermouth and had some issues with the route. When we checked what had happened a few days later, we discovered that we'd made a slight detour and added around 4 miles to our trip.

Around 30 minutes after Cockermouth, we reached a bridge that was under repair. The workers told us that we had to go around to the next bridge (which was back into Cockermouth. We knocked on a farmhouse and asked if we could cross the river through his field and he told us that the villagers just walk over the bridge anyway, despite the builders. So that's what we did. When the last person had crossed the bridge, the foreman got wind and chased us off, shaking his fist!

The next part of the journey was the first real taste of the hills we had to face. We went up and up for what seemed like hours. Most of were walking by this point and Aaron became the second victim of the stolen bikes, with injury setting in. He soldiered on though.

After climbing through the hills past Winlatter Forest Park for around two hours, it was time for the descent. This was the first awesome downhill of the trip and it was amazing.

From here it was onto the main road for a long but fairly flat ride towards Newton Rigg, on the outskirts of Penrith. Matty and Mark got lost for an hour after another misjudgement. After a 4 mile detour they luckily managed to get found by the support van and got a lift the last 2 miles into Newton Rigg College.

The very kind Ann Burgess, Commercial Services Manager for Newton Rigg College allowed us to stay in one of their accommodation blocks. We had a bed each and there were showers and kitchen facilities. It was a very welcome relief from the 50 miles of hills we'd cycled that day.

DARK at Newton Rigg College Newton Rigg College

The next day, after cleaning up, we said goodbye to the college and headed off once again. By this time the stolen bikes had taken enough casualties and been taken out of service.

After the hills of the first day, we were hoping for some respite on the second day - which sadly never came. After making good progress on the first 8 or so miles, we faced with the looming shadow of Hartside. The ascent lasted around two hours with most of the group walking. The wind and rain were hammering us for the whole time and it was gruelling. The Hilltop Cafe was a most welcome sight when we got there.

The 1903 feet we'd climbed up Hartside, now became a 1903 foot downhill white knuckle ride

After spending about £300 between us (the cafe was a little pricey) we put our waterproofs back on and braved the wind and rain once again. What goes up must come down... and come down we did! The 1903 feet we'd climbed up Hartside, now became a 1903 foot downhill white knuckle ride. It was a bit scary with the open hillside and the strong winds, but we all absolutely loved it.

DARK Coast to Coast

The joy was short-lived however. The 2 hours riding up, equated to about 10 minutes riding down! Once we'd hit the bottom of the hill again, we had to start climbing again with the wind and rain still battering down on us. We were headed for Stanhope, around 30 miles away. Google Maps estimated it to be around 3 hours ride.

After around 2 and a half hours, we were soaked through. Some got in the van and had a lift for the last few miles, the conditions were awful.

DARK Coast to CoastAbout 4 miles outside of Stanhope we met Josh (14), Tyler (10) & Ryley (7). They rode the final stretch into Stanhope with us, like little heroes.

DARK Coast to Coast

In Stanhope our destination was Unthank Hall where we had kindly been offered a field to camp in. Upon arrival we were met by two amazing people in Alan and Polly Morton, who fed us hot soup and dried our sodden clothes.

More info about Unthank Hall

We pitched tents and prepared our BBQ for the evening. Alan had allowed us to use his lean-to to shelter from the wind and rain while we cooked our dinner. The rain seemed to ease a little but the wind was still raging and wind-break nearly blew away a few times.

...crossing the river wasn't as easy as we thought and Frankie took a midnight bath...

After food we walked into town to the local pub for a well-deserved pint. We met some lovely locals and Matty 'treated them' to a few songs on the karaoke.

To get back to the campsite we could either walk to the bridge over the river, or use the stepping stones and save about 20 minutes. Needless to say we used the stones. After a couple of pints, crossing the river wasn't as easy as we thought and Frankie took a midnight bath in the freezing water. Luckily we were there to laugh at him and then pull him out.

In the morning after what was probably one of the worst night's sleep we'd ever had, we were greeted with bacon butties by Alan. After packing up and assessing our wounds and tiredness, those that were left standing got ready to complete the final day's ride. We said goodbye to Alan at around 10am and the set off towards Tynemouth and our final destination.

DARK Coast to Coast

The day started with a truly awful hill, so we cheated a little and got a lift most of the way up! The descent was the best yet... one of the support cars following us had to reach 50mph to keep up! It was truly exhilarating... until we reached the bottom and had to start climbing again.

DARK Coast to Coast

As the day was just getting going, the hills seemed to die off. We met the cycle track after Consett and the next dozen miles were easy compared to the previous two days. The cycle track was made from an old railway line and the views were amazing.

The last 8 or so miles followed the river through Newcastle and towards Tynemouth. It was nice and flat and we welcomed that fact. The ride was quite fun at this stage and we even did a little sightseeing.

DARK Coast to Coast DARK Coast to Coast

There were many high fives, hugs and even tears.

We approached Tynemouth at around 3pm as the rain came hammering down. Each time we'd stopped it started to rain. We'd set off again and it stopped... it was like it was chasing us. We had outrun the clouds all the way to the sea and they had a score to settle.

We walked down to the beach and dipped our other wheel. There were many high fives, hugs and even tears. We were proud of what we'd achieved - we'd rode 145 miles across the country, from sea to sea, in memory of Davey.

DARK Coast to Coast DARK Coast to Coast

...we'd rode 145 miles across the country, from sea to sea, in memory of Davey.

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Read 2958 times Last modified on Monday, 18 April 2016 06:32

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