2009.04 C2C ride
Click on pictures to enlarge.
Wednesday 23rd April
Gentlemen of the FGCC congregated at 8TC at 09.00 as planned. M le Bas honoured us with his presence to see us off, even though he would not be on the ride. He also kindly presented a package to be opened at the top of one of the highest points on the C2C.
Bikes dismantled and stacked in LSV2. Frames had to be counted several times to ensure the correct number and even then Mr Budd’s bike and bag were nearly left in Mr Roche’s garage.
A solemn ceremony of insignia application and disanonymising the now LSV3 took place
followed by a group photo shot,
after which the convoi exceptionnel departed Findon early (!) at 09.50am.
First stop Oxford Services, second stop Keele services. Only noteworthy site was the trailer-load of spare tyres for Zach’s bike along with the sign across the motorway stating “think bike”!
Third stop Lancaster services by which time electronic communications had been established with Mr Budd, who had managed to escape from work in spite of Darling’s depressing outpourings (the budget).
The convoy split at this point for LSV1 to collect Mr Budd from Lancaster station, after which they took a circuitous route to St Bees due to Mr Nightingale’s not taking full note of the dulcet tones of his satnav.
Meanwhile LSV2 & 3 went direct to the digs in St Bees and unloaded and assembled the bikes on a sheet in the car park.
An evening of merriment in the Manor House. Excellent accomodation at Fairladies Barn.
Best beer: Jennings (Jenkins to JR) Ordinaire, followed by Jennings Cumberland Ale (aka rocket fuel).
Statistics: 386 miles.
Thursday 24th Day 1 of the ride.
Route: St Bees beach, Cleator, Rowrah, Lamplugh, Lowswater, Lorton, Whinlatter pass, Whinlatter park forest centre, Keswick (Lakeland Pedlar Cycle shop), Threlkeld.
Logistics: LSV1 joined us for lunch at Whinlatter Pass, delivered bags at Threlkeld and returned to St Bees at the end of the day with the Team Chaplain and FL to collect LSV2 & LSV3.
Excellent breakfast, followed by a debate on companionable silence at which point Mr Leroux claimed that Mr Thomas had spoken more than he during the journey north. Mr Roche was asked to adjudicate, but refused to be drawn on the subject.
The peleton made their way down to the start point at St Bees beach in pouring rain and high winds to find even the RNLI taking shelter. TM was called upon to resolve noises from Mr Budd’s rear wheel. After tightening of his cones the group dipped wheels in the sea to mark the start of the ride.
Climbing out of St Bees, RT’s new chain decided to break. Whilst this was being repaired by TM, a local gentleman kindly came out to offer his well equipped garage to carry out repairs, tempting TM to a long stop, but the job was now complete. Lack of success there, the gentleman then commented that he had not one, but two unicycles, sensing that this might be of interest to Team Vicar.
The group shortly got under way on the official C2C route along the old railway line, only for CB to suffer a puncture a couple of miles along the track. We then followed round Lowswater and through to Lorton at which point JR’s bike decided to have a puncture when he called his usual refrain “check your tyres lads”.
Setting off for the climb up Whinlatter Pass RT’s chain decided to break again (prompting JR to comment later at the lunchtable that this is what happens when one carries out work unsupervised by the TM). Continuing up and over the pass
and into the Whinlatter forest, where we missed the opportunity to indulge in moss-diving, and onwards to the visitor centre where we were able to join the LSV Director for lunch, but not before fixing yet another JR puncture. JR decided that we were being subjected to efforts of sabotage by a certain cricket club that misuses our title. The tyre fixing operation was assisted by an elder gentlemen who commented “its good to see the youth of today fixing punctures”
Highly enjoyable descent along a dirt track, with Messrs Roche and Budd enjoying it so much that they decided to do part of it again.
To Keswick and the cycle shop to acquire spare chain links and onward to Threlkeld for the overnight stop at the Horse & Farrier with it’s satellite accomodation, The Salutation.
The evening entertainment started with guess the waitresses name, in which she participated with humour, but this changed when JR changed it to guess the waitresses phone number, for some reason!
Best beer: Jennings Ordinaire, though Team Chaplain favoured the Sneklifter.
Statistics : Distance 37 miles; total ascents 3,645ft; total descents 3,202ft; max altitude 1,138ft; min altitude 0ft (though satmap claimed min was 58ft).
Friday 25th Day 2 of the ride.
Route for the day: The Old Coach Road, Greystoke, Penrith, Langwathy, Melmerby.
Logistics: LSV’s 2 & 3 were delivered to Melmerby in the morning by MA & JR and later LSV1 joined us for lunch at Greystoke
Whilst the cars were being driven on to the next stop, TM was faced with the task of trying to resolve the Team Aromatherapists noisy rear end, JR’s latest overnight puncture was repaired and ZA had fun replacing his front tyre three times till he got it right (then).
The weather had changed much for the better in comparison to the previous day and the group set off for the challenge of the Old Coach road out of Threlkeld – no mishaps, but the effort was worth it:
The crossing of the ford at the top of this section had been the cause of debate over the claim that only full-suspension could get through without rider dipping into the water. Two full suspension and two hard-tail bikes got through and then it was the turn of the next full suspension bike:
Onward then to lunch at Greystoke where we met LSV. The BBC had featured the village the day before as part of celebrating St George’s Day, but as JR pointed out it was typical of them to get it wrong and be there one day early! EN had spilt blood at Ullswater trying not to lose the keys – a visit there next time for a memorial creation?
After lunch to Penrith, and on the way out JR got a puncture. Fixed and the now familiar call “check your tyres lads” resulted in finding that CB had another puncture. Fixed that one and quickly made our way to Mrs (& Mr) James digs at Melmerby. JR & ZA were accommodated in the satellite digs where the Bishop of Carlisle had stayed. Kenneth, husband of the landlady there and Mrs James’ brother, commenting on the surrounding scenery; “I love that hill there – that’s where I had my first heart attack”. The next morning, when photographs were being taken, he also encouraged his wife, who was fretting over the state of her hair, with “Don’t worry woman – we’ve spent enough on it ….and I think you are beautiful however you look”.
Evening dinner taken at the pub in Ousby which was over-run with pool players. Early beers fine, but then went off, with the result that JR fell asleep in the middle of his third beer. An early night was called and all in bed by the astonishingly early time of 10.15pm.
Best beer: Wainwright (for the first couple of pints).
Statistics: Distance 37 miles; total ascents 2618ft; total descents 2572ft; max altitude 1433ft; min altitude 282ft.
Saturday 26th Day 3 of the ride.
Route for the day: Hartside pass, Garrigill (ford route), Quarry workings, Nenthead, Northumberland border, Allenheads, Durham border, Rookhope, Stanhope Moor, Parkhead.
Logistics. Cars driven to Nenthead and LSV’s 2 & 3 left there. Collected at the end of the day by EN,ZA & RT.
The morning’s TM activities included fixing CB’s rear end and attending to MA’s rear shock. Possibly another repair of a CB puncture but by now we had lost count.
All set off for the climb up Hartside – road route taken by all.
Another opportunity to enjoy a fantastic view:
Descent from Hartside should have been effortless, but we had to pedal downhill due to the wind. ZA’s rear end starting to grumble at this point warranting an inspection by TM, but no conclusion.
Down to Garrrigill and up the ford route where the slippery gravel path even made FL utter “B******” and get off and walk. A stop caused by yet another CB puncture was gratefully accepted. Up to the top of the next range of hills, stopping to communicate with some llamas, observing black grouse and curlews, through old mineworkings and then the welcome descent into Nenthead, where we met LSV for lunch.
A very heavy downpour encouraged us to remain in the pub a little longer than intended. JR thought that he had observed a great example of TEMKEK as a local man cursed and swore at his wife to get out of the car and into the pub and stop being so lazy – it turned out he was remonstrating with his dog.
Eventually with waterproofs on we set off for the section of the route. Locals helping with directions we first had a steep climb up a cobbled street and later were directed onto the main track by a white bearded gentleman smoking his pipe waving each of us in turn onto the track and muttering “cracked as pots” with a smile. This climb took us to the Northumberland border and inspection of the sign there – plaudits to Dulux for the colours that had barely changed in 2 years, followed by a little maintenance. This point was later confirmed as the highest point on the C2C ride.
Rolling hills and a road route to Allenheads. At the top of one of these rolling hills a usual stop to stare. The usual formal invitation to get moving again was brought swiftly to a halt when it was observed that MA was not ready as he was answering a call of nature, to which PT commented “how can one issue the call when a gentleman is already answering a call (to issue)”, resulting in MA’s aim not being quite as he had intended.
On arrival at Allenheads MA’s instinctive reaction to clean the sign was aborted due to the location having become much more public with the presence of a new conservatory, occupants of which came out to enquire as to our activities, with “we charge for photos” , but she agreed that it would be half price for an Allen.
The next climb was to the Durham border by which time ZA’s rear end was really grumbling, so we stopped at the highest point alongside the cairn for TM to set to work. This gave RT the opportunity to grace the local sign with the FGCC colours, but then a massive thunderstorm arrived causing waterproofs to be put on and all to take shelter, the problem being that there was absolutely nowhere to take shelter; no trees, bushes, or anything other than to hide on the leeward side of the cairn. Then TM spotted the “Welcome to Durham” sign on the ground and placed it against the cairn for a shelter, with all 7 of us huddling together under it to escape the painful torrent of hail and the occasion resulting in a torrent of commentary, including:
“This is just like being on the Central Line in the middle of the rush hour.”
“Here we are at the highest point in the region in completely open country alongside the only major object around in the middle of a thunderstorm holding a most efficient lightning conductor over our heads.”
“If it weren’t for divine intervention we would have been cycling down the hill in the middle of that”
The hailstorm having covered the road in a thick layer of slush we then descended to Rookhope to find glorious sunshine and a welcome cup of tea to warm us up again.
The last major climb out of Rookhope was made much more enjoyable due to the sun and at the top we rewarded ourselves by consuming the special chocolate kindly provided by M le Bas – following the instruction for it to be had at the top of a major hill.
Gentle ride down to the digs, Parkhead Station, on Stanhope Moor, but JR was so concerned at some of the ruts that he fell off – a memorial event next time? Whilst LSV’s 2 & 3 were being collected TM conducted a major re-build of ZA’s rear wheel hub.
An excellent evening courtesy of our hosts.
Statistics: Total distance 40 miles; total ascents 4708ft; total descents 3818ft; max altitude 1988ft; min altitude 561ft.
Sunday 27th Day 4 of the ride.
Route:Parkhead, Consett, Stanley, Beamish, Sunderland.
Logistics: LSV’s all driven to the digs in Sunderland and LSV’s 2 & 3 left there for the day. A slow delivery resulting in a major falling out between EN and his satnav lady.
TM task for the morning was further attention to ZA’s rear wheel. Tried to make the payment for the accommodation to Terry, who commented that he’s not trusted with the money, leading to the observation that this seemed to be the case in most of the B&B’s we had attended.
Due to time pressure (CB having to catch a train that evening) starting to impact again, after 4 days glorious absence, CB, JR and RT set off at 11.00 at a reasonable pace. Taking the usual time to slowly go past a horse and rider, the rider commented “You don’t find many gentlemen around nowadays” as the FGCC peleton went past, and adding that it was a “grand day”. Lunch stop at Beamish and to fix another CB puncture. Having set off an hour later, PT, MA & FL had sped down from Parkhead to arrive only 20 minutes later with LSV joining us and enabling the whole group to set off together after lunch for the final stretch. It was noted that after Beamish the dog of choice seemed to be the Staffordshire bull terrier or similar and that every other car appeared to have personalised number plates.
CB had another puncture due to a shard of glass (welcome to Sunderland) alongside the Stadium of Light. A mile later travelling alongside the river yet another puncture for CB. Another mile and we had arrived, meeting EN, only for CB to find that he had yet another puncture – change those tyres Chris (and for that matter John).
RT delivered CB to Newcastle station at 5.25pm well in time for his train.
That evening we were required to go to Newcastle to meet AC – he would not venture into Sunderland – and his wife Jane, both just recovering from his mother’s birthday celebrations. A visit to AC’s local and its array of fine bitters, but the Black Sheep was so good that it was the one for the evening. ZA knocked on the door of his friend the Bishop of Durham, who came to say hello to the group in the pub, but felt that he shouldn’t join us for a drink, and expressing nervousness at being photographed with the group.
Statistics: Total distance 36 miles; total ascents 823ft; total descents 2273ft; max altitude 1450ft; min altitude 0ft.
Monday 28th. Return south.
Route: A1(M) to services just south of M62, A1, A14 to A14/M11 services, M11, M25, M23, A272/A264, A24.
Bikes were disassembled and stacked in LSV2 and the convoy headed south. Francis was too cold to get out of the car for the departure group photoshot:
Stops at services were spent trying to recall events over the previous 4 days and taking notes.
JR reminiscing over the meeting with the Bishop commented ” I suppose that if you already have a seat in the house of Lords, the only way up is to be seated alongside members of the FGCC”.
Arrived back in Findon around 17.00 the convoy having split at Pease Pottage and LSV 2 having a dispute with its satnav lady.
Statistics for the ride as a whole:
Total distance ridden 146 miles; total ascents 11,794ft, max altitude 1988ft, min altitude 0ft, total calories burnt (according to RT’s bike computer) 3645 calories.
Mr Topley for Project Managing a ride that will be remembered by all for a very long time.
Mr Nightingale for his LSV activities and his company, without either of which the event would not have been so enjoyable.
Mr Budd for whipmeistering – as JR put it, it is good to see all those years of training finally being put to good use.