Day Three Allenheads to Tynemouth
What a difference a day makes. Woke up this morning to thick mist hanging over the valley of Allenheads.
Good news, Chris is back on his bike this morning. Still not fully fit, he and Dennis who was struggling (no more than me) set off before us at a steady pace. This morning was going to be hard.
Two big climbs to conquer before our reward of downhill and flat for the rest of the day. Out of Allenheads the guys and even me had been saying … 1 mile up, 5 miles down …. It blinking wasn’t!! Ok so the actual categorised climb was 1 mile BUT you had to get there first which was up hill !, So I make that 2 miles up and 5 down!
After filling our faces with all we could eat cooked by the lovely Teresa, our bikes were brought right to the door from a lockup by the ever helpful Jim (wish I’d taken their pics). You have to stay at Allenheads Lodge, 1 it’s a great place to stay, warm, clean and you ride straight past it on route and 2, the warm and friendly welcome you receive from Teresa and Jim.
It goes without saying now, the guys were yet again waiting for me. Chez had opted not to ride the last day. To say she had only been out on her bike a couple of times prior to the c2c she had done bloody marvellous to have ridden as much as she had and I’m sure she surprised herself with how far she had cycled.
So with Chris and Big D already up the road, Seppe, Jay A, Tom, Jay H and me set off to conquer the climbs.
I know I whinged about it being really 2 miles up, well that’s because this morning my legs were obviously a little tired. Yesterday we finished the day at Allenheads Inn which was half a mile past Allenheads Lodge. As I had chased the van down the hill yesterday I still had momentum to take me to the pub without much effort so I actually thought the road was flat…. Not this morning though!
You ride past the pub (savouring last nights tasty meal), swing a sharp left and ….CLIMB!!! Bloody Hell, for a wannaby cyclist blinking heck you got to sort those gears out quick!! And get into your stride! Chuffing Nora!!!!!
It was thick in mist which I think for me was a good thing so I couldn’t look at what was to come. I could just see Seppe’s red rain jacket disappearing into the mist and thinking I wont be seeing him for a while.
It took me about 20 minutes to get to the top of Allenheads climb with a mixture of pushing, panting and cycling slower than can possibly be recorded.
There was a layby at the top of the climb where the guys and the van were waiting. They asked me if I was stopping and I just shock my head. I didn’t want to stop as it was flat and I was able to catch my breath cycling steady.
Definitely worth the climb
There are breath taking view from the top of Allenheads climb but unfortunately with thick mist obscuring pretty much everything the camera stayed in my pocket.
And we’re off!! 5 miles of downhill, yippeeee!!! You know when you just want to welly it? I love downhill (it’s the sudden stopping I don’t like) and take every opportunity to have that feeling of wind blowing through my hair (because it’s not often I move that fast to even ruffle a strand!) BUT …….
….There’s always a BUT…. The mist was so thick you really did have to be careful. At times you couldn’t even see other cyclist in front of you until you were almost upon them and there was almost no chance of seeing oncoming cars when you over take. To cap it all I was wearing a grey rain jacket! Humm, which bright spark thought that would be a good colour to where in mist!!
The lovely downhill finishes at 6.5 miles and be careful, if you don’t make the left hand bend you will end up ordering a pint at the Rockhope Inn bar as it sits right on the corner!
You whip around the corner and then UP, UP, UP…. Or if you’re like me, stop, get off and push. It’s very steep with loose gravel. It’s at this point I think to myself, do I ride round on the road, longer with a big climb but better surface OR run the gauntlet of Rockhope Moor?! Moor it is, I’m hoping short sharp is better than long and drawn out!
As I start ‘the long push’ I am joined by the 2 Jay’s shortly followed by Tom and Seppe. It felt good when they announced that they had chased me down the hill and hadn’t caught me (don’t think they must have been trying too hard) but even so, it felt good. BUT told you before……
….light bike heavy body wins downhill every time!
The Arduous Walk!
I tried at certain points to ride but they terrain was too rough for me and too steep in some sections. Seppe hung back with me (whilst I visited nature). He walked a little then got on riding to the top to wait for me. I pushed almost all the way.
When I eventually reached the top, there was Seppe like a little gnome in the mist sat on a rock. We could hear voices just behind him and as we push the last couple of yards to the top who do you think we could see out of the mist? Only the rest of the guys who had been stood in the cold for an absolute age waiting for me to get up the climb. Bloody hell if I had known they would be waiting I may have walked a bit faster. None of them showed any sign of frustration but they must have been. They were wet and cold and obviously wanted to get on and ride BUT AGAIN had waited for me.
We had reached the top and from here on in it was downhill flat. We still had the wet thick mist to contend with and the track was in some respects worst. It was over grass moorland and the track being a popular route was only a few tyre widths wide and was deep. You had to be careful not to catch your pedals on the grass banking on either side of you.
I hung back from Jay A’s wheel as his reactions are much quicker than mine and not being able to see too far in front I didn’t want to end up running into him.
We were all cold, my feet, in my summer cycling shoes were wet and getting colder by the minute. This was in stark contrast to yesterday when I changed my cycling top for a sleeveless one as the temperature was so hot and we all had our factor 50+ sun screen on.
All cyclo crossing then .. all of a sudden all I see through the mist in front of me are Seppe’s legs doing some sort of forward roll motion…. What the heck!!!
He had been concentrating so hard on the track in front of him that he hadn’t notice a cyclist coming the in opposite direction had stopped and moved over for us. All he saw was a body. He slammed on that hard he propelled himself through the air. Luckily it was moorland so he had a soft landing and was ok. Good piss taking fodder for us though!!
It’s 4 miles across the moorland and you damn well knew you’d been across once you reached the other end.
Neil and Chez and ‘the van’ were waiting for us at the intersection where you come of the moor and join the Waskerley Way for a wonderful downhill to the coast. You can’t beat a warm cuppa tea at any time of day but this morning it tasted better than ever!
I still felt sort of ok, knackered but ok. No problems with the backside but my back and hand were smarting a little. Heyho, nearly there!
The Waskerley Way runs for about 9 miles following a disused railway track. It’s a great surface to ride on and it’s DOWNHILL (well mostly) and when it does go up you don’t really notice it. The track takes you through beautiful woodland and over stunning viaducts.
It also crosses some roads, generally nothing major BUT …. Gears!!! I didn’t think I was that bad with gear changing but my ‘new birthday bike’ I’m sure is playing games with me. Just when I think I have mastered them I go and rollocks them up again!
You’re on the track, it nearly always drops down to cross the road and if you have a down there is generally an up! Get your gears right before up need them!!!! I’m still not as confident on this bike as I was on my old one so when going downhill and braking I am concentrating on braking and getting my foot ready to unclip that I don’t change down gears ready for the inevitable up after crossing the road.
Twice I got the chain jammed … berk!!
Are we there yet!
The 26 miles of downhill ends near Swalwell just before you reach the River Tyne. That’s when you think you are closer to the finish than you really are!
15 miles of cycling mostly along the banks of the Tyne is one of the longest 15 miles you will ever do. Especially when you’ve already announced to everyone that you’ve had enough now and you want to be finished!! (if I’d have cycled faster I would have been finished!)
I don’t know if it’s all that phycology stuff, knowing you are nearly there, but my back was in agony, I kept having to get off and stretch it out and give my hand a shack to get the feeling back into it.
It’s alright challenging yourself to get fit but blinking heck it’s bloody hard work getting there. Well, all I can say to my own self is ….
… your own fault and the fault of no other why you are unfit and unhealthy, so stop moaning and get on with putting it right!!!…
That 15 miles just goes on and on, even Seppe commented that he thought we were nearly there miles back.
The end is in sight
The end was in sight and Chris called me to the front to lead them all home. Why I don’t know (well I think I do). Those guys had ridden for 3 days for me. They had dragged me up every climb, encouraged me to keep going from morning until night, were considerate and patient from the first push of the pedal to that last. And yes, I am teary writing this.
They rode for me and what a great honour that is to have the support of 8 people all with their own challenges to face putting that aside for me. I am not worthy of their kindness and patience but I will endeavour to be so in the future.
I will not let their efforts be wasted on a one off ride. I will be encouraged every time I cycle by their thoughtfulness and kindness in helping me challenge myself to succeed.
Thank you Seppe, Jay, Chris, Neil, Tom, Chez, Jay and Dennis for a fabulous weekend of cycling, comradery, laughs and great memories x
You don’t have to cycle the coast to coast to challenge yourself. Each challenge is relevant to you. Walking to the greengrocer and back is a good start.
Here’s to health and happiness