Monday, 31 August 2009

The Final Push

The final day was, as we thought, the sting in the tail of the ride. We had to go 'up and over' the North York Moors. Thankfully off road surfaces were well drained and we enjoyed some great riding, including some very fast descents which at times reached 45mph+. The Cleveland Way was a spectacular highlight with the heather on the grouse moors in full bloom....stunning. At one point on the fastest descent a wayward sheep decided to step out in front of myself and Mark, how we missed it is quite beyond me. A 45mph collision between man, sheep and mountain bike would have been a messy affair. We had several ascents to make that were between 1:4 and 1:3 and these really started to take their tole on our stamina. By now it was just sheer bloody mindedness that was keeping us going. Again I kept Richard and Mark amused with what had become my once a day 'comedy crash', this time into a a comfortable patch of bracken!

The last hour into Robin Hoods Bay was tough with yet another mile long 1:4 Ascent to deal with (thanks to my suggestion that we take a low level easy option!)

Our families were there to great us on the beach at Robin Hoods Bay for the obligatory celebration shots. All three of us were proud as punch to have reached our destination.

From a personal point of view this has been one of the toughest physical and mental challenges I have ever taken on. Mother Nature threw everything she had at us and at times I had to dig very deep into my reserves to keep going. I'm amazed I completed the ride as I had really done very little training. I'd really like to thank both Mark and Richard for agreeing to join me on this trip...they have been brilliant and very tolerant of the pace and grunts and groans of 'Tail-End Charlie"

Beth deserves a very big thank you for supporting us with hot sweet tea, lunch, power bars, energy snack and just great words of encouragement...We owe you one Beth.

I'd also like to thank my wife Cath who did such a great job in dealing with three very wet and knackered bikers after days one and three. That curry was awesome!

Special mention must go to Mike Clough of Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd who so kindly donated a fantastic bike for me to use on the ride. I guess you want it back now Mike?!

Lastly thanks to you all for sponsoring us and to those that have sent messages of support..they really do keep you going as did the ASSOS botty ointment!

If you ever see me on a mountain bike again...please shoot me.

Yours (in Lycra) Simon,Mark and Richard.

More photos and video will appear on the website soon.

Day 4

Day four arrived and three very tired riders made their way back to Kirby Stephen to start a long 60 mile + day. The day before was one of the most physically demanding riding experiences we have had. Our wife's were very concerned as they were listening to the Cumbrian Mountain Rescue being interviewed on the radio, who were predicting a busy weekend. On the top of the fells is a mountain bothy provided by the Mountain Bothies Association (I will be making a donation). Although it made for dry shelter we were all very cold and had to make the decision to keep moving as there was a real danger of hypothermia setting in (no joking - it was that bad). This was very relevant for me as I had also taken a spectacular 'over the handlebars' fall into a very wet bog! Although our cycling clothing is good - it's not at all up to a day of severe weather in the fells. All in all a day we will never ever forget.

Anyway back to day four. We had to traverse both the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. This is only possible by hitting a fair bit of tarmac, which made for a very welcome respite!The conditions on the Pennie Way made for very difficult riding with some very technical and scary downhills thrown in.

The ride out of Kirby Stephen allowed me to see a bit more of the Eden Catchment aswell...ever the professional!

The Dales were spectacular and the descent through Swaledale into Gunnerside was fantastic. Then it was push through to Richmond and our campsite near Northallerton.

Again this was a very very tough day and at times we were all starting to question our sanity.

Special mention must be made of Beth (Mark's wife) who is doing such a fantastic job supporting three grumpy bikers..without her the ride would not have been possible. Beth you are a superstar!

One day to go!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Shap Slog

This has been by far our hardest day in the saddle. Lots of climbing, awesome downhills and a traverse over Shap Fells that nearly broke all three of us. The conditions were horrendous and we had to push our way across bogs at times up to our knees in wet mud. Going downhill wasn't much easier and we can honestly say this was the toughest riding we have ever experienced. We eventually dragged our sorry saddles in Kirby Stephen at 8pm this evening..........wet, muddy and very, very tired. Hopefully it should be a better day tomorrow!? This is a quick blog as even typing is tiring....good night!

Coniston Capers

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful.....bugger! What promised to be mucho saddle time turned out to be more hand-bagging than a Friday night at Ritzy's disco. The climb up Walna Scar was hard, calf busting hard. However, the descent into Coniston was mind blowing. The disc brakes were smokin'! Beth provided a great lunch and the afternoon ride was hard in places but at least rideable with stunning views all the way to Ambleside. We now feel that this is a bike ride rather than a bike pushathon.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


We were treated to one hell of a day to remember as storms lashed Cumbria and the Lake District. After a delayed start due to Mark forgetting the keys for the bike rack, we eventually got going at 1130 in very heavy rain and wind. Despite this we made good progress and hit our lunch spot on time. After lunch we made our way to Black Sail Hut and the conditions started to deteriorate even more. The ascent to the top of the pass saw us 'hand bagging' and pushing our our bikes on a very tough climb. The cloud cover reduced visibility down to less than 200m. We quickly made our descent on paths that had by now turned into raging torrents and had to traverse several swollen rivers. Richard copped a flat and had a spectacular fall down a steep bracken covered slope. I had a good tumble into a very muddy puddle on a section of bog. Our next ascent was a similar challenge with lots of pushing and we had to navigate using GPS. We eventually made our way into Eskdale at 6.30pm feeling very tired and very wet. These were the worst conditions any of us have undertaken any outdoor activity in let alone cycling.

Another day in the saddle awaits...hopefully it will be a bit drier!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

And the forecast predicts damp pain!!!

As I write this Richard, Mark and Beth are cruising up the M6 laden with tents, sleeping bags, kit, bikes, food and high hopes!

They are converging on ride HQ (my house) for a pre-ride pasta-fest and briefing (panic)..which may involve a beer or three.

My bike decided to throw a wobbler on my ride last night but 'Bicycle Repair Man' at Arragon Cycles in Penrith saved the day!

The Cumbrian weather looks like it's going to treat us to a very wet 1st day in saddle. This is not the start we were hoping for and I think we are going to be in for a really damp slog up Black Sail Pass. We may need this bicycle umbrella design I found on the web. Now we are all beginning to regret all those missed training opportunities.....there is no escape, no wriggle room, no more excuses.......judgement day arrives...tomorrow!

I now have a confession to make...there's only one thing I hate more than camping.....and that's camping in the wet.
It's going to be real!