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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A week to remember Part 1 - Coast to Coast 2013

Morecambe Welcomes Us

Ten years ago some of my work colleagues thought that it would be a good idea to cycle Coast to coast from Morecambe to Hornsea. At that time i had an old racing cycle and cycling was one of a number of recreational interests I had.
It was a memorable ride which took three days on an assortment of different cycles with riders of differing abilities.
Since that time I 'Discovered' cycling which soon became my singular recreational pastime and a near obsession.
I was not alone - the expression 'On your bike' seems to have been taken literally with tens of thousands of like minded people swapping trainers for two wheels
Old routes were revisited which included this cross country adventure.
Three years ago Sustrans had formalised a cycle route from Morecambe to Bridlington with an assortment of designated cycle paths, minor roads, and the occasional quirky thoroughfare.
The later stages even took in some of our own cycle playground - So it was a no brainer
We took our respective partners and completed again in three days on touring bikes.
Although the ride was a great adventure for me it was more of an endurance feat rather than a bike ride.
Travelling unsupported with panniers could never be described as travelling light especially if your doing the honourable thing by carrying your partners baggage.

My pannier dispersant was consisted of 20% of my essentials and 80% of Joannes non essentials. When they were clipped onto the bike it resembled a 1000cc motorcycle with a 10 Mulepower engine.
After having to push this burden up a particularly tough section climbing from Settle up onto the moor I commented on what the ride might be like carrying lighter burdens
Like say two water bottles.
Three years later that thought was turned into reality and combined with a family gathering
Please bring me Sunshine

Highly recommended

My twin brother Paddy, younger brother Andy, great friend Simon and I made up the cycling quartet, whilst sister Linda and Ian were our SAG wagon.
Unhindered by hair straighteners and multiple shoe choices we decided that we would complete the ride in two days on road bikes starting early.
We arrived in Morecambe on sunday and stayed at The Crown Hotel.
Now Paddy is very fussy when it comes to hotels and I was concerned that a small seaside establishment might not 'pedal his wheels'.
But he had not reckoned on Steve the owner.
He was so welcoming, sociable and accommodating, stored our bikes and sent us off with a memorable breakfast.
The hotel was a winner.
If you plan to do C2C and want to stay the night before I highly recommend this venue one that I will definitely revisit.

Typical British Summer Seaside weather
Coats On, Coats Off, On, Off
This summer has been great for cycling apart from during our cross country gig, although we had the wind behind us we also had a procession of cloudbursts.
Some were so enthusiastic that they were accompanied by percussion and a light show
There were times that I felt my handlebars could be replaced by a rudder,as my primary steerage device

Bridging the Gap
Raindrops keep falling on my head
Wheres the Tail Wind?
Advertisment on the Hoof
Andy adapting to a bike with no other use than to ride fast
Strange creatures can be found on the Moor

Unburdened by unnecessary luggage we made great progress and as we climbed away from the coast towards the Pennines.
Paddy discovered that there was actually a use for the small chain ring having made it redundant in the texan plains. I smiled knowing that he would spend the rest of the day becoming more closely acquainted.
Andy at the same time reminded us that it also helps if you dont carry any personal panniers. Weighing in at the same weight as one of our legs he flew up the hills like he was born in Bogota.

Refreshments in Settle

After Settle we climbed onto the moor. It was not a usual climb but one that would have been devised in Hell and described by John Milton

“Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.”

As it ramped up to 10% I selected by lowest gear and focussed on getting into a rhythm.
Paddy slipped past me ignoring my cries of 'Keep your powder dry' - I knew what this beast had in store.
Around the corner it increased to 27% and Paddy was trying to work out how to unclip without falling off. It was his first Rodeo
I had this climb hard wired into my memory and my powder was just about dry enough to blast me to the top.
Of course everything that goes up must come down and as you leave the Pennines to the East you descend into Patley Bridge. If you were travelling East to West it is one of Britain's longest and toughest ascents so going down should be easy right?
For this section I wore a head-cam.
Unfortunately I cant post it, not because of its 15 min duration but because the British film censoring board have classified it as an 18 certificate on account of bad language and scenes that might be disturbing. I have to agree on viewing it that I was disturbed - close to 50mph on wet roads and 25% slope was a tad risky
When we got to the bottom my wrists ached from braking and the wheel rims were as hot as a smelting furnace.

Wheel rims cooling down on descent to Pately Bridge
Colour Coordinated of Course
17th Century accomadation !!!

On arrival at Pately Bridge the sun decided to give us a brief visit as we consumed our lunch. With the bulk of the climbing completed all seemed well for our route up to Brigham Rocks before descending into Boroughbridge. Coats were packed away, lenses changed on sun glasses and protective cream was applied to filter the solar rays.
I smiled watching cyclist move in the opposite direction towards darkening cumuli nimbus clouds that were building over the moor.
Half an hour after resuming those darkened oversized clumps of cotton wool had moved.......they had seemingly wanted to check us out and were fast on our tail. Although out of direct vision their thunderclaps stood as a reminder that they could move faster than we could pedal and their presence shrouded the sun and cast a shadow over us. Each time I looked behind I was alarmed at the pyrotechnics.......It was not the 4th of July !!!!!!
Being a self professed meteorologist I reassured everyone that before the storm caught us we would change direction by 90 degrees and travel towards the only area of blue sky still visible.

My prophetic statement appeared to hold water- we turned right and accelerated as fast as we could possibly ride as if chased by the devil himself.
Once again into the sunshine again our anguished faces turned to smiles as we watched the storm seemingly move away from us. We took a moment to check the route and get our breath back.
Wrong decision
The storm had obviously thought we were mocking it and decided to teach us a lesson.
A huge thunderclap signalled its change of direction and despite renewing our escape endeavours it was on us in minutes.
If the lightening was not bad enough the roads became small streams and branches were torn from trees presenting us with a dodgem course.
For once in my life I rejoiced at not being tall knowing that Simons head was closer to the cloud-base than mine. Surely he would get struck first if I stick close to him.
Andy and Paddy had left their coats with Ian and linda at lunch time and were now drenched a mistake that they foolishly repeated the following day too.
As we arrived at Boroughbridge the sun came out and our drenched clothes started to steam, for the casual observer it may have looked like smoke from a lightening strike.
Maybe Mules have more lives than cats?
With beer all round we had a restful night.
The following morning started with the obligatory 'full English' not the fuel for the pros but definitely fuel for Mules.
The weather was forecast to be warm and sunny with no rain and a light tail wind.
We certainly got that later but after Andy and Paddy opted to not carry coats a rogue storm held back for us to give us an additional morning shower.
By lunchtime we started to see seagulls and soon after the north sea.
Epic ride - great people - well worth doing every year

C2Cin 2 Next year 1 Day?
The End Game

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