Today’s guest post comes from one of my good friends, Martin, from back home, he recently did the Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge and has been kind enough to share some advice for any of you out there who are brave enough to take it on. I for one, am very jealous, this is just the sort of thing I could go for right now, enjoy.
What’s that then?
The Sea to Sea Challenge is arguably Britain’s most popular ‘Long Distance’ cycle ride. What this means is that unless you’re a ridiculous specimen of a human being then its defiantly going to take you more than a day to complete. At 136 miles it’s not the longest or craziest route anyone has tackled on two wheels, but bearing in mind it crosses two mountain ranges (The Lake District and The Pennines) it’s no mean feat.
Ok….You’ve already decided that you’re enough of a sadist to subject the most precious parts of your body to 140 miles of cycling up to some of the highest roads in England; what more do you need to know?
If you are already considering the C2C, then you probably have a bike that can cope.
So the first thing you need to consider if whether you are camping or staying in B&B accommodation. Once we started the route we were surprised to find how many people chose to stay in B&B’s and have their kit transported each day by one of their mates in a support car of van. We chose to carry everything on the bikes with us including tents, sleeping bags and clothes. We couldn’t help but feel ‘slightly’ more hardcore than the B&B crowd who passed up damp tents and wet clothes for warm beds and en suite bathrooms!
Carrying such kit means you are going to need a rear rack and pannier bags. Trust me when I say – as much as carrying a backpack with all your gear in seems reasonable. DON’T! Your back and backside alike will thank me later. You are going to want to take at least one set of clothes to cycle in and one set for using around the camp site or pub (come on, no one really wants to see you in your best Lycra cycling gear whilst sipping a beer.) Padded shorts and a waterproof jacket are the minimums in terms of specialist clothing.
The Training – The C2C route is hilly, very hilly. While that means many ear to ear grins at high speed it also means you have to cycle up the hills beforehand. If you are reasonably fit then simply using your bike as much as you can in the weeks before the ride should suffice. Once you get going a certain determination of just being on the route seems to get you up the hills.
Navigation – Not a problem. The C2C is one of the best signed routes in the country and it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
You’re pretty much ready to go. Once you get out of Whitehaven it’s clear why the route is so popular, the back lanes of the Lake District are brilliant for cycling and you’ll see hardly any cars until you reach Keswick, right on Lake Derwent. Once you’ve left Keswick you ride through some nice woodland on a board walk through the trees which criss crosses a fast flowing river. You then leave the Lake District and descend into the green Eden Valley before the town of Penrith. Out of Penrith the Pennines beacon and its a gruelling climb up and over the Hartside Pass (1903ft)
You’re rewarded with a fast, long decent which will make the effort seem worth it, that is until you reach the next big climb out of the Village of Nenthead, taking you through the remote North Penninies through the Village of Allenheads and the favourite cyclist stop which is the Allenheads Inn. From there there is only two more climbs to do until you reach the town of Consett where the route divides in two to either Sunderland or Tynemouth.
There’s a wealth of information on the Internet about the C2C, combined with the ease of navigation and scenery, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. It can be broken down into as many days as you like. Three to Four days seems to be the most popular -cycling 30 to 50 miles per day.
Of course if you want a challenge you could try and beat the record of a little over ten hours. Good luck!