A day by day report of the Coast to Coast empowered people ride 2017 by Jamie Wood
The group assembled in Todmorden and from there drove to the hotel in Barrow in Furness. It was very windy. To blow off some stiffness from sitting in the bus a small group of us cycled the few miles to the sea on Walney Island. I reset the counter on my bike there. Pleasing we were cycling west, we were positively blown back to the hotel.
After food, and a rousing speech from Simon Lord, the founder and chair of the charity, we were treated to a complete set of new kit. We would all wear the same kit for the ride and mighty useful it was during the week.
The sea at Walney Island. My start point. Photo: Jamie Wood
Feeling good but nervous. I did some training, but perhaps not as much on hills as I would like. The bike feels great. New saddle definitely a plus. I reset the counter at the edge of the Irish sea on Walney island. Here goes.
Day 1: Barrow to Hethersage
Lovely route, but before lunch was tough, with a very steep climb from Ulveston to Cartmel. Noel got a puncture first up, which proved stubborn to fix, but soon caught us up.
The weather was not kind to us on the first leg, wet and windy and we were all soaked through by the first brew stop, where the sun did at last make an appearance. The new waterproofs did a fine job on the top half. Alas I was struggling and got in the van for the second leg, from where I saw some of the extraordinary efforts of the support riders to get their charges up the brutal hill.
After a chilly lunch stop at Cartmel I rejoined buoyed with ‘enthusiasm’. Noel and I went for it on the hill out of Cartmel and went shooting down the other side. Fun, but we were both rightfully ticked off by chief cheese.
The remainder of day was much smoother, except for Robin, who was dismounted by another rider and made a heroic attempt at being a crash mat for his supportee, Graham.
We arrived at Hethersage Hall Hotel before 5, where we were greeted by fantastic showers and Sam Smiths beer.
I managed just under 50k, but the first leg took it out of me and this early in the ride I didn’t have the energy to attempt the difficult ascents before lunch. Very pleased with the ascent out of Cartmel, although the rapid descent through grange afterwards was a bit of a shock. The new orthotics (which lock both my ankles in position to stop my lower leg shake) worked really well when I had to put more effort in.
Day 2 Hethersage to Hawes
A day of lanes connecting across from the edge of the Lakes to the Dales via the narrow valley of Dentdale. The morning was rolling with one sharp descent before entering Dentdale and lunch in Dent.
Alas the front runners (Paul, Penny, Roger) missed the lunch stop and continued past, completing a somewhat epic day a couple of hours early. From Dent the route climbed steadily up the Dale until we were treated to a spectacular view of Dentdale Head viaduct. Then we took a sharp left and tackled the slopes of Dentdale Head itself. From the brewstop at the top it was a stunning 10k descent to Hawes where speeds of over 40 mph were achieved by some.
Special note for Paul who completed the entire day, Dentdale head included, with no lunch, on an unpowered hand recumbent.
This was tough day for me, but a good one. I started out first thing and my legs just were not rotating the pedals properly. I nearly made it to brew stop but fell off just before. Struggling, I had to wait to rejoin at lunch time. I felt good after lunch, good enough to have a go at the steep slopes of Dentdale head — I nearly made it — but with some ramps getting on for 20% I didn’t have the legs or the gears. Worth it for the descent though, my bike reckons 36 mph, but I think it was faster… My friend Dani (Ungar) arrived overnight and gave me tremendous support over the next two days.
Day 3 Hawes to Easingwold
Storm Aileen gave an impromptu visit overnight and we woke to Lake Ure, a few blocked roads and several tree limbs lying on top of walls.
She still had a bit more rain in her for the first leg, cycling along rolling lanes and then a short climb up to Castle Bolton, where we were finally treated to sunshine for our morning coffee.
The second leg had a magical section of open tarmac bridleway across a field, from which the views of the Dales were really beautiful. The sting was a sharp hill on the road that followed shortly after. From there is was a long steady downhill on lanes to lunch in a market square in Masham, where it promptly rained. We had several people approach the crew as we had lunch to find out how to get involved.
Slight drama then followed as a tree blocked the route to Ripon. Ed, looking resplendent in his orange support jacket, did such a fine job of redirection and general walking about with a calm demeanour that the Police left him in charge. After an extraordinarily varied set of reactions from the locals, we proceeded though Ripon, the brewstop by the A1, and on into Easingwold.
After struggling in the previous morning I decided to skip the first leg and attempt the rest. This worked well. Brute of a hill defeated me but I walked most of the rest of it and got in the van for a few 100 yards to get to a safe place to restart. It was a long days riding and twice I had to stop and take on energy gels to keep myself going. Alas I stiffened up waiting for the fallen tree to sort itself and had to skip the last bit of that leg.
Day 4 Easingwold to Scarborough
A tough last day. After tackling the slopes of Yearsly bank, on roads that were rather busy, we brew stopped near Hovingham.
From there it was flat riding across the Rye valley, taking in the Barughs and Kirby Misberton before an awkward crossing of the A167 and lunch. Alas Charlotte’s trike blew a bearing on the last section and had to be retired, though Charlotte tackled the hills to follow on Simon’s trike.
From lunch, we eschewed the direct route to Scarborough and instead went north, through Thornton-le-dale and into Dalby forest, and then up onto the plateau. From there it was a simple descent through Forge valley to Scarborough and then a victory procession along the promenade.
A wonderful moment arriving in Scarborough, we even collected an eagle for the team photo.
Good day for me. Rested again for the first leg and then legs got going on the second, though needed a quick stop by a nice telephone box to recover. I then felt great and successfully tacked the hill out of Thornton and the one onto the plateau that I couldn’t get up last year. The caffeinated energy gel, dismissed by chief cheese as being as useful as a sofa cover, helped me up, but required numerous unscheduled pitstops on the way down…