So from Friday to Sunday, I have been doing a cycling trip from Whitehaven all the way to Tynemouth in Northern England.
It was 140 miles of mountains and ups and downs and pavements and mud and crap and rocky paths and roadkills. I did this with 9 other amazing lads aged from 19 to 60, in aid of Cancer Research UK (you can still donate here: [link]
) I didn't have any time to train myself so I admit I went there totally unprepared. I could ride a bike but I couldn't get the hang of the gears, and I chickened out on the first day after 15 miles as I was the slowest and I didn't want to slow everyone down, apart from myself being really knackered. I went onto the van whose driver Brian who also was kind enough to provide bikes and navigate us for free in the course of the trip. (I guess I also have to account in the fact that I travelled to Newcastle the evening before and had to share a single bed with my brother, and had to meet up everyone at 6am that morning...)
So I decided on that day to take photos of the guys on the first day. The weather was really bad and there were quite a lot of uphill climbs. In between the gale force winds and rain, a window of sunshine peeks through the lake district and it was absolutely gorgeous.
I hopped back on the bike for the last 5 mile stretch of the day and arrived at Greystoke where we spent the night, before that we went to the local pub (and the only pub) for tea (that's what the Northerners say for dinner as we know it, dinner for them is lunch) and the food was lovely, I have never eaten so much in my life.
We had full English breakfast with black pudding the next morning, which was lovely, and we started the hardest day of the 3. The weather was really really bad, the rain and wind were blowing at our faces and it felt like tattoo needles when they hit my face. The entire morning was really difficult. We had a 4 mile ascent up Hartside mountain, I tried my very best there but the freezing wind made me go nowhere and I couldn't even push
the bike, and we got pushed off our bikes if we try to mount on (down the hill that is). 3 of us eventually got picked up to the van and skipped about a mile and a half of winding road and we all had dinner(lunch) at the hill top café. I was shivering really badly and thought that was it for me in this trip. Same went to quite a few other guys. Instead after dinner we all decided to go for it and had a long ride down the hill, and the sun decided to come up and give us some time to dry ourselves. There were still a lot of uphill climbs after dinner and we really pushed the bikes rather than riding it. I rescued a frog in the middle of the road!
Eventually we arrived at a sign that says "Welcome to Northumberland" where we finally have left Cumbria behind and did a lovely descent off the hills, a little too lovely where two of our lads overshot a signpost and dashed at 60mph for six miles off the wrong course. Brian took forever to chase after them while the rest of us did a slow but steady climb towards Allenheads, where we spend the night. There we had some really really really lovely pub food and played Killer pool. The people at the pub were really friendly and we chatted for a bit. I also showed the lads how easily drunk I was by being bought a pear cider. Stuart, the organiser, filmed a bit of me being silly.
and today was the last day, while distance-wise it was the longest it was mostly downhill and flatlands. Apart from a 2.5 mile ascent early in the day (which the weather was really really bad, took a picture at the sign that says "Welcome to Durham County"), and another 1.5 mile ascent up the Pennines, the rest weren't too bad, although I was very cautious about going down hill and I have been lagging behind quite a bit. Had some fantastic sights and eventually arrived at Newcastle. Never did I realise how far Tynemouth was from Newcastle, that bit seemed to last forever, but I was really glad the other guys waited up for me at this last stretch and we all finished at the same time. Traditionally we had to dip our rear wheel to the water at the west coast and front wheel at the east coast and that's what we did.
I still couldn't believe I have made it and actually completed this trip, although I missed out quite a bit on the first day, it was still the biggest achievement both mentally and physically I have ever attempted in my life. I still can't say if I wanted to do this again, but I definitely am very glad I did this time. Made some really great friends and saw a lot of things, and made me realise that my limit is much further than I actually thought I was capable of.
Now I really have to go to bed... back to work tomorrow morning!
edit: here are some photos other people have taken and uploaded, will update as they come:[link][link]