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So just 2 weeks after the Manchester 10k, it was time for Challenge 5, the Blackpool to Paris cycle!
We arrived in Blackpool just before 10am on Monday 4th June, after enjoying B&B at the Smith Household! Thanks Kath and the kids for the hospitality!
Monday 4th June.
The sun was shining and we were welcomed with a good sized crowd to wave us off. A big thank you to all who made the effort to come down and see us off!
After the ‘official Photos’ in front of Blackpool tower, which drew in quite a crowd asking what we were doing (good question!!!), we were off along the prom!!!
We cycled down the front through Lytham St Anne’s, with a touch of jealousy for the holiday makers taking a nice leisurely stroll along the prom! We headed away from the sea and into Preston along the docks. The weather was good and we were making great progress averaging around 20mph once off the prom. Heading down towards Wigan and then with Ferry Bridge power station in the distance, we approached Warrington. We headed through Warrington taking in the many roundabouts which got in our way and suffering some mini road rage from a couple of motorist we stopped at a Tesco petrol station for lunch. Pasta all the way for us athletes!!!
After 40 minutes or so we headed off again down towards Northwich, and along some great country lanes for cycling, getting some good speed through to Nantwich. We cycled through Nantwich centre before heading back into the country and the last few miles to our campsite for the evening, Foxes Bank Farm at Hunterston.
We unpacked the van and set the tent up before getting ourselves sorted. Jonathan went to pay our camping fees and the lady in charge offered the camping for free as we were doing the cycle for charity. She also arranged a collection from the other campers for our fundraising. The collection raised £43 and with the £10 camping fee added we got £53 for the charities from our visit to Foxes Bank Farm. We would like to say a big thank you to all who donated.
We headed out in the van form some much needed food to Audlem. They had a music festival on and despite the pubs stating food served until 9pm, they had all stopped service at 8pm.
Thankfully (?) the local kebab shop was open. So it was pizzas and chicken buckets for tea in the beer garden!!! Team Sky could learn a lot from us........
85 Miles done!
Tuesday 5th June.
We were up at 7.30am and packed and on the bikes by 8.20am. Not having any breakfast we decided to get an hour or so in and send Tam on a food finding mission in the van. We had a good ride with a couple of hills thrown in before we headed into Eccleshall. Tam was waiting with the van and had managed to negotiate the early opening of The Bell pub (http://www.thebelleccleshall.com/) to serve us a full English each! Which was very much welcome at 9.30am!!!
Food eaten and smiles back on our faces....but for how long!!!
We set off from the Bell about 10.30am, ready for the challenges ahead after a cracking breakfast! From here we headed into Stafford and back onto the busy roads which would be our route for most of the day. From Stafford we headed down the A34 before turning off into Cannock Chase Forest. The road through the forest was quite steep and certainly made you pedal hard to get to the top but it was well worth it. As we were cycling along we saw a group of about 4 or 5 deer run alongside us, with another 12 or so pass us a minute or two later. It really was an amazing sight! Sadly I had left my camera in the van.......
We had reached the top and were all set for a nice downhill run. We were not disappointed. We headed down and back into civilisation and met up with the van for a quick refuel! We headed through Hednesford before hitting what seemed like every main road through to another Tesco lunch at New Oscott, 50 miles in.
We set off from our lunch stop and headed out on the last 35 miles of the day. Sadly it all pretty much involved main roads, dual carriageways and roundabout after roundabout. This part of the ride was my least enjoyable as the rain had started and a headwind picked up. I put my head down and was hitting 22mph on the dual carriageways as I wanted to get off them as soon as possible, but the group was splitting so we slowed it down to a still respectable 15mph. The roundabouts also were a challenge as they greeted traffic heading off and onto the M40 and a little later the M42, and the cars seemed to want to keep the motorway speeds as we headed past the exits......
We headed down towards Warwick with the miles disappearing with each sign we passed, then took in a nice tour of Leamington Spa, which was welcome break from main roads and was a very nice town. We headed out of the town and up towards Fosse Way, which is a Roman Road which lasts for 182 miles from Lincoln to Llchester in Somerset.
We headed away from the main roads and took in a nice country lane as we headed for home for the evening. We arrived at Lighthorne Heath, thankfully drier than we had thought as the sun had come out for the last hours or so and had a nice shower and drink. Tam made us a lovely and much needed lasagne and garlic bread, before we headed off to bed!!!
84 Miles for the day and 169 in total!!!
Wednesday 6th June
We were up and tucking into a great full English at 7.45am and all set for an 8.30am start for the trip to Bray. We set off and headed down towards Banbury, with a decent run and few cheeky little hills early on. We got to Banbury and stopped to check the best way through the town. As we waited for Garrath and Jonathan to lead us away from the centre an elderly couple came and gave John £3 to put towards the money raised having seen our T-shirts.
We headed out of Banbury and set off down towards Oxford. The roads busy but in the main not bad for cycling. We lost John at a set of red lights just outside Oxford so waited by the side of the road. As we did a woman her daughter and baby passed and asked what we were doing, and gave us £10 to put towards the cause.
We headed into Oxford centre on one of the many cycle lanes, however cycle lane means potholes as we got the first puncture of the trip and not surprisingly to those on the 6 peaks challenge way back in 2008, that honour fell to me!!!! Having a spare inner tube at hand meant a reasonably quick fix ensured and we were back on our way.
We cycled right through the centre of Oxford avoiding all the other cyclists and scholars and stopped for a quick photo opportunity and asking a passerby with some fish and chips if he minded letting them go cold and taking our picture! He did resist the urge to tell us to get lost and was polite enough to accept our request!
We headed out of Oxford and onto the quieter country lanes of the surrounding area. This was a nice cycle through to Garsinton. As we headed through we saw the van parked next to a grassy area which would double up as our picnic site for the next 45 minutes. Unlike the previous two days we did not go to Tesco, instead we let Tesco come to us......well actually we gave our order to Tam who did our lunch shopping for us! What would we have done without her!!! J
We had lunch and watched the wildlife discussing what the rather large bird up above actually was. Which was followed by a fly over from the Red Arrows, which I’m sure was just for us!!! As we packed and got ready for the off the weather looked like it could turn nasty, but thankfully seemed to just be heading away from our route.
We headed down past Chalgrove Airfield with helicopters passing overhead, and cycled through to Watlington along some nice quiet roads. We headed into Henley-on-Thames and had lost John. He was right behind me at the last bend and then he vanished! Jonathan and Gareth headed back whilst myself and Garrath headed off to find the van. We got a call from Jonathan to say they had found him and it was a puncture issue!
We regrouped and decided to treat ourselves to an Ice Cream by the river. ....lovely!!!!
We had a look at the map, do we head straight down main roads to Bray or cycle along the Thames, which whilst being a bit further and probably slower would be much nicer. After Birmingham the quieter and scenic routes always seemed to win!!!
We set off along the Thames with the path quickly turning into an off road track. Not good for road tyres.......we headed on and moved away from the river to a lovely quiet country lane. A decent uphill section woke the legs up before we hit a nasty looking main road and the idiot performing a ridiculous overtaking manoeuvre did little to change our opinion!!!
Garrath got his iphone out and his map app. Result, he found a really nice road which got us away from the chaos ahead. We followed the road and eventually came to the outskirts of Bray, crossing the M4.
We cycled through Bray which was a really nice village and despite taking the odd wrong turn found our way to our accommodation for the evening with Jonathan’s Cousin. We put our bikes in the shed and made our way in, stinking their lovely house out!
We showered and got sorted and headed downstairs for a well earned beer and a fantastic meal of Chilli, Jacket spuds and garlic bread. Just what we needed! We planned the route for our last day of UK cycling deciding to take a detour to Box Hill, which would form part of the Olympic cycling route!!!!
A big thank you to Alison and for their hospitality, it was really very much appreciated.
Thursday 7th June
Our final day of cycling on British roads!!! We were up at 7am and ready for the off about 8.15am as we headed to Newhaven.
We headed out of Bray and made our way towards Windsor, as the rush hour traffic was reaching its peak. We knocked 15 miles off in decent time as we approached Chobham and met up with Tam and the Van. We arranged the next stop, 30 miles or so at the top of Box Hill. We had a quick refuel and were off again. As we were cycling along a pickup truck over took us then stopped behind a car turning right, I slowed down to see if he would try and squeeze past. I tried to warn the others but Gareth went into the back of John and fell off the bike. Thankfully he fell away from the road and onto a grass verge. He did snap his cleat in the process though.
Luck was on our side though as a mile or so on we came across a cycle shop where he managed to pick up a new set of cleats. We carried on and took a right too early adding a bit of a detour to the ride, thankfully we could cut through and did not have to retrace our cycling steps. We headed through Cobham as Box Hill was getting closer. We were all a little nervous as what to expect from it. My thought process being it could not be as bad as Honister and I got up that, just......and it hurt like mad!!!
We headed towards a forest and a road closed sign and police car blocking the way. Our first thoughts were accident and a bad one. Thankfully they were cutting a tree down and had almost finished so we could pass.
We headed through Leatherhead and onto the A24 which we followed for a few miles. We then saw the sign for box hill. As we hit box hill it was pretty steady but I went at it quite easy expecting it to kick at any moment. The kick never came as we turned what would be the last bend before the top and finished the last few meters. We waited to regroup then grabbed a coffee and cake and got chatting to a bloke on a training run as he prepared for the London to Paris cycle.
The rain was starting to fall as we headed down, stopping to see what the furthest destination was at the lookout point, which for reference is Devil’s Dyke!!!
We headed down from box hill with a obviously blind woman turning right across Garrath’s path, thankfully he had anticipated the stupidity of the driver and slowed down! The rain was coming down really hard now and we were soaked, we kept going though as we had no choice.
We arrived at Haywards Heath at 2.45pm for a late lunch and waited for Tam, who had once again been to get the supplies. It was still raining and miserable and the pub across the road looked very inviting. Not much persuasion was needed and we locked the bikes and headed into a nice warm and dry Red Lion. We did try and dry ourselves as much as we can but the staff were very accommodating given the state of us!
We got a rather health burger and chips which really did the job and watched the weather on the TV, it did not look good! Outside the window the weather was still more suited to the Ark rather than bikes and no of us were in a rush to get back on the bikes.......sadly we had a ferry to catch so at 4pm we got some dry clothes on and the cycling continued.
The run through to Lewes was pretty good and quite quiet with the main highlight (or not) being when John misjudged a curb and turn straight into it and fell off the bike leaving a rather bloody cut on his shin!
We navigated through Lewes where bus drivers do not seem to grasp the fact that knocking a cyclist off could actually do some damage but positives were the sun was coming out and headed back to quieter roads.
We then had an amazing 30 mile run to Newhaven which we knocked off in 1 hour 30 minutes. Myself, Jonathan and Gareth headed into Newhaven after a really good and pretty fast cycle to Newhaven. We found the car park where Tam and the van were waiting and relaxed and updated the followers on Facebook and Twitter as John and Garrath headed into the car park.
As we were sailing at 11.30pm we did not have any accommodation so had to get changed with the van doors and a hedge as privacy!!!
We headed into Newhaven for some food and a place to stay until we set sail. John popped into The Ship to ask if we could put our bikes somewhere. They kindly let us put them upstairs in the function room. We got some drinks and made ourselves comfy and get chatting to the locals one of whom gave some relationship advice to Garrath and Tam. ‘It’s all about give and take...’.
Having finished serving food the bloke behind the bar said we could go to one of the take always and bring it back and eat it in the pub, so it was off to the Chinese for plenty of rice and noodles! The barman and our new friend wished us all the best as we collected our bikes and headed to collect the van then board the ferry.
The bikes had to be attached to the van before we could get on the ferry so we had to pull over and quickly get the bike rack on and load up. By 11.30 we were on the ferry and finding a spot to crash. We found a cinema style room and sat in the seats, when a load of bikers came and sat across from us. One of the bikers decided to strip out of his leathers right in front of Gareth, with just his Y fronts for company. Gareth was understandably less than impressed at this rather large, sweaty biker undressing inches from his face! We on the other hand found it rather amusing!!! We set sail around 12 and managed to get a couple of hours sleep on the ferry despite the rough sea, before one of the many pointless announcements woke me up. Then we were heading into Dieppe.
The biker was up again and putting his leathers back on, what a frightening sight!!!
We headed up to the van and waited to be ushered off the ferry, as we headed off the usual ‘Remember they drive on the right’ advice was offered, as we hunted for a car park to get kitted up for the final leg of the journey.
Friday 8th June
We got changed into our cycling gear for the last time and planned our first stop with Tam. We had gotten a route of the internet which gave a traffic free or traffic light run to Paris, but was 129 miles. We had a tour of Dieppe trying to get on the right road and completely ignoring the London to Paris sign posts which seemed more direct but not as quiet! We found the corect route and headed along the quiet streets of Dieppe at 6.30am.
We headed along the D1 towards Arques La Bataille where we missed the left turn onto the cycle path, Av Verte. We cycled around the town centre getting more and more confused as to where to go!!! Jonathan used his French to ask for directions and we were heading back on ourselves for about quarter of a mile before turning onto the cycle path, Av Verte.
The path was great, nice and flat but after 4 days on the bike and less than 2 hours sleep speeds were not as high as they had been, but even so we made steady progress. We stopped for breakfast and a nice break before heading back onto the cycle path. While the path was great with no traffic and being flat it did at times get a bit monotonous, but the surrounding scenery was beautiful.
We had a bit of excitement when Gareth got the first international puncture of the trip. Garrath and John carried on cycling whilst myself and Jonathan stayed to help him fix it. We caught up with the others and then headed back onto the open road. These roads took in some amazing countryside and were nice and quiet to cycle along. There were a few hills thrown in along the way but all in all I felt tired but pretty strong and actually quite enjoyed the challenge of the hills.
We met up with Tam and the van and everyone collapsed, with the lack of sleep really seeming to hit Gareth and Garrath. We set off again and headed off on a main road with lorries flying past, after a couple of miles we were back on the quiet roads.
The break had an adverse effect on me and I felt tired and was struggling a bit, whilst it had a positive effect on Garrath and Gareth. Heading up a bit of a hill, Gareth said he had a puncture, I unclipped my right foot glanced back and then just stopped and fell to the left. With my foot in the cleat I could not put my foot down and despite being a thin strip of tarmac with lots of grass either side I smacked my knee right onto the floor. It hurt!!! It also turned out it was a false alarm for the puncture!!!
We headed on with a good few miles still to do before stopping for a bit of food. The wind was pretty strong now which did not help matters so it was nice to have a break.
We pushed on and cycled through quiet country lanes and small towns with some great views along the way.
We had a pretty nasty section of main road which many car drivers welcomed us with beeps of their horn as they struggled to pass, the nice relaxed atmosphere of the country drivers did not exist as we headed into Triel!!! We turned off and had a fantastic downhill into the town. We headed down to the river to meet Tam for what would be our last stop before Paris. We were at approx 100 miles.
We headed on and followed the Seine for a while before we hit the forest on the outskirts of Paris. We were a little concerned that we were into the century for millage and we had still not seen a sign for Paris!!!
We cycled through forest after forest for what seemed like an eternity. We kept going with Jonathan doing a great job following the directions on slips of paper, which he had all day. Eventually we saw a sign for Paris. Phew!!!!
We eventually heading into Versailles, we headed on following the cycle paths rather than the main roads which ran alongside. Eventually we turned a corner and at long last, there is was the Eiffel Tower!!! In my head I was trying to figure out how far it was away, ½ mile, 2 miles, 5 miles!!! I didn’t have a clue but all that mattered was I could see it!!!
We followed the main road into the centre of Paris which thankfully was reasonably quiet at 9pm! It was certainly an experience cycling through Paris and at times it was a case of just shutting your eyes and going for it, especially when all road markings disappeared and it turned into a mass free for all.
We headed past the Tennis courts of the French Open, round a couple of roundabouts then we were there!!! The Eiffel Tower with the Euro 2012 fan park in front, at 9.30pm we had made it!!!!
We headed down to the tower and met up with Tam, had the celebratory photos taken and got a donation of a few Euros from a British tourist! We were even photographed by quite a few Japanese tourists as well!!!
So it had been completed. 5 days approx 475 miles in total, and 140 on the last day with just 2 hours sleep the night before and 26,000 calories burnt!
We headed back to the van and loaded the bikes and headed the 3k to the campsite. We pitched the tent and went to get some food and a well earned beer but everything was closed. So it was straight to bed and recharge for a day of sightseeing in Paris on the Saturday!!!
Saturday 9th June
We awoke to great weather. I went to update facebook etc and charge my phone as the battery had gone on the ferry. Returning to the tent Tam and Garrath had got some breakfast and put the coffee on! Thanks guys J
We headed into Paris and left Tam and Garrath to spend some time together having had to put up with us for 5 days! Myself, John, Jonathan and Gareth headed away from the main street and got some food and a well deserved beer! We then did the tat run for souvenirs then decided to get some beers and watch the football at the fan park. We wandered for 1 and a ½ hours looking for a supermarket, however it was probably not the best place to look for a supermarket with Dior, Jimmy Choo etc etc etc all around us!!!
John had a look on his phone to see if he could locate one and we headed down to the tower. We finally got some beers, which were a bargain compared to the prices in the bar and headed to the fan park. We were then informed by a policeman we could not take beer in. Gutted!!!
So we decided to sit in a park opposite and drink the beer, which with a nice underpass where homeless and drunks must have hangout had a rather unpleasant smell when the wind picked up!
We then headed to the fan park, watched some football before heading for some food and then back to the campsite.
Sunday 10th June
We loaded the van up with the gear and bikes and headed to the tower for the official photo with our Derian house t-shirts on. I was flying back so got dropped off at the train station for the journey to Beauvais airport about an hour outside of Paris.
The rest drove back using the channel tunnel as I flew into Manchester!
We met up at Jonathans to collect cars and bikes etc and had a bite to eat before the adventure ended as we headed back home after a week away!
A big thank you to Tam for supporting us in the van, we really would have struggled without you. Also for the offer of accommodation to Tam and Alison and .
Thank you to everyone who offered donations and good wishes along the way, it really did help to keep us going.
Thanks to the bell and the ship for great hospitality.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this challenge and helped us raise a great sum of money for Derian House Children’s Hospice and the other Year of Madness charities.
Bring on Challenge 6 in two weeks time!!!!!
This Sunday sees challenge 4 of the Year of Madness get underway. Yes, it’s time for the Manchester 10k. This challenge is quite an emotional one as we are running in memory of a very special person, Matt Wallbank.
Matt died on Saturday 24th May 2008 from Sudden Adult Death syndrome whist in London. Cardiac Risk in the Young was a great source of information and support during this very difficult time for his family and friends. This event is the reason I am supporting CRY as one of the Year of Madness charities.
We have a good turnout for the Manchester 10k as Matt’s family and friends wanted to run in his memory and help raise lots of money for CRY.
The team pounding the Streets of Manchester include:
You can support us at:
Having had a quick look at the website they offer a wide range of quality accommodation throughout the Lakes from log cabins through to cottages and bunkhouses. Which may well come in useful this year!!!
Thank you guys for the support!!!
So, challenge 3 of the Year of Madness is over. Those days of feeling ill leading up to the challenge are no more. 112 miles, well probably 120 in total after the odd detour have been complete. What a relief it is.......
We were awake and out of bed by 5am on the 5th May. Sleep had not been great that night, waking up every so often with ridiculously steep hills filling up most of my dreams. We were up and ready knowing it would be a long day and with porridge eaten and ham butties packed we were good to go.
We met Steve at the start point, Hills garage in Coniston. Passing Dan and Mark unloading their bike on route. We checked in with the dibbers and headed out of Coniston towards Ambleside........6.45am!
Heading out towards Hawkshead we hit Hawkshead hill, the first climb of many. It was steep enough with the legs still cold but it seemed to go on forever. We headed on to Ambleside and along the main road towards Windermere, I thought to myself ‘I feel good, I’m doing well’ before telling myself to shut up we are only 8 miles in! We turned up and headed towards Kirkstone Pass. The first big climb of the day at 454 meters!
We reached the top and were greeted by some amazing views and ice. We checked in at the Kirkstone Pass Inn, had a bit of food and quickly got moving again. It was downhill now, but the cold air did not make it much fun and hitting ice around a bend thankfully did not cause anyone to skid of the bike. We headed into Glenridding, glancing up at Helvellyn as we passed, thoughts of Race the Sun in September coming to mind, and headed alongside Ullswater.
At 23 miles we took a left and headed up to Matterdale End, which compared to Kirkstone was steady at 343 meters. We then got onto the A66 which was fast and busy but had a decent strip for cyclists. We managed to get some speed and knock some miles off pretty quickly as we headed towards Keswick. Memories of the Coast 2 Coast came flooding back as we headed in the opposite direction on this road back in October!
We arrived in Keswick roughly 40 miles in and stopped at the main car park for a food stop. The ham sandwiches were going down fast!!! Facebook was updated and we headed off, knowing the next section was make or break.......
The road from Keswick could have been amazing, heading down past Derwentwater with amazing views. However, the surface was not great and for a narrow road was pretty busy with cars struggling to find a passing place. We headed down to Seatoller, looking up at a white line over the distant mountain. ‘That could not be Honister, no chance. That is to steep........’ Sadly, it was!
We turned a corner and bang, there it was. I stopped to remove clothing as the temperature in the valleys was pretty warm and the climb would heat me up!
It set off with a left turn, steep. Then we headed over a bridge and a straight but not quite so steep section before kicking in with a right turn. My heart was pumping hard and it hurt. I had to take a couple of seconds to get my breath looking at the next turn which was ridiculous. Kicking on I was pulling all sorts of faces as I pushed myself up, I would not have looked out of place at a gurning competition, but I refused to give in!!!
It eased off slightly as the top came into view, spurring me on, I could now see Tim and Steve waiting at the top. Phew I’d made it, time for a couple of minutes to get my head together and let the group reform! That was a tough climb; in fact the Fred Whitton website describes it as ‘This climb is really hard, almost on a par with the infamous Hardknott’. If it is, only time would tell....
Honister was at least constant with a 25% assent followed by a 25% descent. The brakes were locked on as we resisted picking up speed, at the bridge it was across to the other side of the road to give enough room to swing round. Thankfully a couple of blokes on motorbikes saw this and held off overtaking until it straightened out.
The views over Buttermere were amazing and we regrouped at the bottom of Honister for a photo by the lake. We carried on before checking in at the YHA.
Just down the road we took a right, up Newlands Pass. Another tough climb, but not as bad as Honister. It was then a pretty decent run down towards Braithwaite and the start of Whinlatter.
Whinlatter was our halfway point being 60 miles in, and the promise of a decent break and a cafe stop. Heading up it was steady with the gradient being kind compared to previous climbs. However it was full of cyclists with it being a popular mountain biking spot and one of the Coast 2 Coast routes, unsurprisingly Honister and later in the day Hardknott did not seem to be as popular!!!!
Head down and keep turning the peddles and then a shout from a lad cycling down ‘almost there....’ I believed him and he was not lying. The cafe was busy but we found Tim and Steve at a table and went to order a coffee, cake and a sandwich (not Ham!!!). They were chatting to a bloke who had passed us near Buttermere YHA, asking what his day of cycling involved and telling him our tale of madness.
After a nice break we were off down whinlatter. It was a decent descent, again populated with coast 2 coast cyclists and families on cycling trips.
We headed on through Lorton and turned onto the B5289 at approx 68 miles. We headed up Fangs Brow a smaller climb, but as the miles ticked on, even the smaller climbs were not so small! We carried on to Ennerdale Bridge at around 80 miles. The next climb was long over the moor as we headed up Cold Fell. It was steady but long, with a bit of a kick in the middle. As it went on I felt strong and picked up good speed for the last half a mile or so. The view out towards the coast was fantastic as the sun reflected off the sea, prompting a quick photo stop. Then it was pretty much downhill to Calder Bridge. After a 5 minute stop and facebook update we were off again. It was 4.45pm and with approx 25 miles or so to go our time so far was pretty good. We headed along the A595 with memories of the 6 peaks and a bike challenge in 2009 flooding back, and then took the left to Gosforth. We were now approaching the business end of the Fred Whitton. We topped up water in Gosforth before the final push, hitting another steep climb in Irton Pike, then through Eskdale Green and Eskdale. It was at this point Hardknott was almost in reach. You could see cars and vans struggling up, in what seemed to be a vertical position. Oh boy!!!
We cycled into Boot and then the infamous Hardknott red phone box was right in front of us. We stopped at a patch of grass as Dan and Mark met us in the car having completed the ride and driven back to watch us suffer!
We kicked on with Tim and Steve pulling ahead, I got to the cattle grid and had to stop, along with John. If truth be told I had already been beaten mentally by Hardknott. But I had earlier decided than I wanted to get round the Fred and not push until at least this point, a goal I had achieved with much pain and determination.
Pushing and walking was tough, my legs were used to riding and the sides of my shins were causing me a lot of pain. Tim and Steve were flying up (well in comparison) and were still cycling. The gradient was immense for the first bend and the round to the right, where the climb relents a bit. I got back on the bike and cycled this bit, giving my shins a rest. The road then kicked left with a nasty bend, I was back walking, before the steepest bend I have ever seen kicked right. Cars were struggling at this stage but Tim and Steve had smashed it and had cycled Hardknott. Amazing effort chaps, and also Mark and Dan who had conquered it as well!
As we approached the top a car passed us with its passengers waving, they pulled in a bit further on with the driver shouting encouragement telling us we were doing an amazing job despite us pushing. He offered us some chocolate and said he was proud of us. This was actually a really nice moment of the ride and pushed us on to the top.
We climbed back on the bike, hitting the brakes from the off and skidded most of the way down; scary does not come close to that descent.
Then it levelled off as we headed the short distance to Wrynose. This was a lot shorter than Hardknott and apart from an obvious kick at the last bend was not as steep. Sadly my heart rate was not reducing and the earlier climbs had taken their toll so I decided to push. I wish I had given it more of a go now, as I believe I could have climbed Wrynose but it was probably the safest option.
The road down was steep and long with some pretty nasty drops down the side of the road, which was not in great condition. We cycled a bit then pushed, we had taken a good length of time walking up Hardknott and Wrynose so time was not a great concern now, getting round safely was.
The road levelled off a bit so we jumped back on the bikes and headed down a very narrow country lane through Little Langdale valley. I almost ended up on the front of a white van at one bend but thankfully the road width had a bit of give and I managed to swerve out the way.
We headed back to Coniston, past the YHA were we were staying and back to Hills Garage where it had all began all those hours ago, and swiped in.
All in all it was around 11 hours cycling and 14 hours in total, many of which came in the last 25 miles..........
....we headed back to the hostel for a well earned beer (or four) and to talk through the achievement of the day!!!
It was a fantastic effort by myself, John, Tim, Steve, Dan and Mark which was aided by the amazing weather we had on the day.
Tim and Steve met the cyclist from Winlatter on top of Hardknott and he donated £20 to the year of madness cause, which was a fantastic gesture and really does make the pain of these challenges so worthwhile.
Would I do it again? Not sure but I would like to go back and try to conquer Hardknott and Wrynose, just maybe without a 100 miles in the legs beforehand. I would recommend the ride though as it takes in some amazing routes with some of what must be the most amazing scenery in the Lakes!
The next day we all felt pretty good considering, just pretty drained but no with real aches and pains, we went for a well deserved full English and met Steve for an official photo with the Year of Madness banner.
So another challenge and amazing weekend has gone by, thank you to everyone who joined the us on the Fred and especially Steve and Tim for cycling with us!
So it’s just less than 2 weeks rest until the next challenge, the Manchester 10k and 4 weeks until we are back on the bike for the Blackpool to Paris cycle!!!
So it’s almost here. The start of the Year of Madness 2012!!! What a start it is.......
It is less that a week to the Fred Whitton, 2 weeks on Sunday to the Manchester 10k and 4 weeks Monday to the start of the Blackpool to Paris cycle. A bit of a manic start and we will not even be half way through the YoM!!!!
It’s going to be intense and very tiring but will be fun!!! I have to say I will be very glad to get the Fred out the way. It is going to be a long and painful day in the saddle!
The training has been mixed, I felt like I was getting somewhere and feeling a lot stronger in the saddle, then we had the Lakeland 50 recce day, with 28 miles of trekking through the Lakeland fells. Unfortunately I twisted my ankle with 18 miles gone and it flared up a few days later. So I had 3 weeks off the bike which has taken quite a toll on my fitness.
I managed 32 miles last week, with Pendle Hill twice and Waddington Fell thrown in and 70 miles up to Settle and a nice 20% climb over to Malham which really did take it out of me. Still got round and its more training done so we shall see what this Saturday brings...........all I know is it is going to be a very long, very hilly and very painful day on the bike!!!
I have also realised the great north swim is not far off and I have not been swimming for a year now. My idea of hammering the swimming after the Tower to Tower seems to have missed a major fact, I will only 2 weeks between events.......so I best get to the pool a couple of times a week!!!
The packs have arrived for the Manchester 10k team, with most people in the pink section. Training is going well for most and we are up to £195 raised for CRY.
A couple of the team are also raising money for Pendleside Hospice and Cancer Research UK and are doing well raising sponsorship for two other amazing charities.
Tower to tower is almost sorted. Ferry is booked, route is planned and support vehicle is ready to go!!! We have had some great support from Data Defined in helping us with costs for this event, all of which is really appreciated.
We are also supporting Derian House Children Hospice as well as Action Medical Research for this challenge. Derian House is an amazing place, which offers fantastic support to children suffering terminal illness and their families.
So it’s all starting to come thick and fast, a little too fast some would say. But all the organising and pain of the training and challenges is worth it knowing we are all playing a part in helping those who are really suffering.
As ever, thank you for the support with all this!
On the 31st March Tim Ingram, John and I headed up to Ambleside to experience a Lakeland 50 Recce weekend.
This consisted of a talk from Marc Laithwaite who helps organise the Lakeland 50/100 events and runs the endurance store, his talk was on ultra running and nutrition. A little out of our league but we did learn some interesting and very useful information about how your diet can affect exercise and performance.
The next talk was from Maxine Grimshaw and her perspective from the middle of the pack, a little bit more like it for us! Again it contained some very useful information about what to expect, what training she did and equipment used and how and why she got into doing the Lakeland 50.
Finally onto the last speaker, Gaynor Prior. Gaynor won the women’s event last year completing the 100 mile course in 28.5 hours, which is quite possibly not much longer than it will take us to complete the 50 mile course!!! Very very impressive to keep going at that speed, especially, as we found out the next day, with the state of some of the paths!!!
After that we decided it was time to hydrate and headed for a Wainwright or three.......it’s what the great man himself would have wanted.......
So up we got at 6.30am on the Sunday after a night of very intermittent sleep. Showered and dressed we headed down for breakfast. Being the athletes we clearly are, and following the talk from the previous evening we opted for the continental breakfast with cereal and croissants........well that and the fact the full English was not served until 8.30am!!!
We packed and unpacked our rucksacks, would we need it or would we not........
Arriving at the pickup point about 7.45 we saw the coaches and other Lakeland 50/100 participants. Our estimated time was between 10 to 12 hours, the bloke I was chatting to was aiming for about 6 hours. He was however a member of settle running club so had the perfect environment to train for the Lakeland 50/100!!!
The couch journey did seem to go on for longer than I would have liked, with the philosophy that the further the coach went the further we had to walk back!!!
We arrived at Pooley Bridge, which was a few miles in from the official start of the Lakeland 50, Dalemain. The sun was heating up now and as we set off out of Pooley Bridge we quickly began the assent up towards Barton Fell before heading along Ullswater towards Howtown. From here we headed up Fusedale which was a bit of a climb especially when it looked as though you’d reached the summit to find you actually hadn’t and had the same again!!!
Finally we reached the top and headed over Bampton Common and down to Haweswater. We followed the bank of Haweswater to the first check point and a nice 15 minute rest and refuel, though Tim’s pork pies had kept us well fed along the way.
We set off straight into the climb up Gatesgarth Pass. The heat was taking its toll and having had to ration water at the checkpoint as supplies were running low did not help, but the views were amazing so it was head down and keep going. We reached the top and headed down towards Sadgill on some pretty tough and rocky ‘paths’.
We then had another climb at Sadgill before heading through to Kentmere and checkpoint 2! Where the lovely ladies had just managed to fill the water tanks at a house nearby, so we could fill our water supply. Thank you!!!
We then had another pretty decent climb out of Kentmere, reaching the top we headed along the Garburn Pass, which being pretty rocky did slow us down a touch, not that we needed much persuasion to slow it down!!! The we saw Windermere which gave us a boost as we picked up speed down towards Troutbeck. A short but steep climb followed as we followed the signpost towards Ambleside. The views were pretty special with the sun breaking through the clouds over Windermere. We pushed on and headed into Skelghyll Wood, which may well be a little trickier to get through in the dark on the actual 50!!! Not far to go now, but we were fast approaching the 9 hours 30 mark so we picked up the pace and began a steady run for the last mile. We got to the finish line in 9 hours 29 minutes.
So the vital Stats are: 28 miles in 9 hours 29 with 6500 ft of climbing and 4765 calories burnt!!!
Well it’s been a few weeks since my last update, but what a busy few weeks they have been!!!
It’s been biking all the way, with long Saturdays in the saddle becoming the norm. Panic did set in after a tough 75 mile ride over the Trough of Bowland which included 5,500 ft of climbing. The feeling of achievement was short lived when I realised the 112 miles of the Fred Whitton involves almost 13,000 ft of climbing.......Oh boy!!!!!
But 3 solid Saturdays in the saddle have paid off and the last ride I felt a lot stronger and knocked 45 minutes of my previous time!
I also see on Facebook that Tim Shields and Steve Gully have been putting the miles in as panic takes hold!!! John has got a new bike from Ribble cycles, who at this rate will be the unofficial bike supplier to the Year of Madness Fred Whitton challenge!!!!
But even with all this training, The Fred Whitton is going to be a mammoth task and will be a long and painful day on the bike...........
This weekend see’s Tim Ingram, John and Myself head to the Lakes for the Lakeland 50 Recce day. This involves meeting up with the L50 team and other competitors on the Saturday evening and hearing from people who have taken part in past events. Sunday we will walk / run roughly 30 miles of the route, testing both our fitness levels and navigational skills as the Lakeland 50 is sign free! Tim, make sure the battery is charged on the GPS!!!
It will be good to actually get out, test the fitness and see what it’s all about!
On Monday 26th March I attended Ashleigh Primary School in Darwen to talk to the children, after an invite from their teacher Allison Kenyon. It was a really nice class who showed a lot of interest in Kilimanajro, the 6 peaks 500m mile challenge and the Alps cycle. I explained to them what was involved in the year of madness as well.
They asked some really interesting and well thought out questions (again the toilet one was in there!!!) but it was great fun and a great class. Thanks Mrs Kenyon and Class 5!!!!
They have dedicated their fundraising for this year to the Year of Madness charities as well which is amazing!!!
The incident with Fabrice Muamba was shocking and very sad but it is great that he looks to be making an amazing recovery, largely thanks to the medical team at the game and the hospital afterwards.
As sad as that incident was, it has done wonders for the awareness of CRY and sudden death in young adults. I have seen from CRY on twitter that the demand for information and for heart screening has risen drastically since that incident.
Once again the support we have received for the Year of Madness and fundraising is fantastic!!!
Well with just over 3 weeks until the Lakeland 50 recce day, panic is setting in and that is just for the training!!!
The recce day gives us the opportunity to walk / run part of the route to help with navigation at the actual event. It is roughly 30 miles from Dalemain to Ambleside and takes place on Sunday 1st April. Part of the recce involves a talk on the Saturday from previous participants and also to meet a few fellow competitors. Thankfully reading the Lakeland 50 page on Facebook it seems that we are not the only ones planning to walk the majority of the route!!!
Hopefully we can get round the recce route in about 12 hours, which will give us a decent training session and a good gauge on my walking fitness.
So what else has been happening in the world of the Year of Madness????
£385 was raised for the Year of Madness charities at the wedding of my good friend Tony Melia and his new wife Victoria. Raffle tickets were sold at the wedding with various prizes on offer including an Ipad kindly donated by Data Defined.
This was a very kind and much appreciated gesture from Tony and Victoria. Thank you!
Planning is continuing for the later challenges, with the route for the Lands End to John O’Groats provisionally mapped out. With over 1100 miles of cycling it will be tough enough, but our confirmation of entry to the Great North Run makes it that little bit more fun.........the next stage is to sort accommodation for the Trail Lakeland 80 Hike........
We have a team of 12 competing in the Manchester 10k on the 20th May. The team include:
The 10k is in memory of a great son, brother and friend, Matthew Wallbank who passed away on 24th May 2008 from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADs). We are supporting Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) for this challenge as they support people suffering with SADs and the family and friends of people who have lost loved ones through SADS.
Please help us support this wonderful charity and the amazing work they do.
So onto the next challenge and the countdown is now on to the third Year of Madness challenge – the Fred Whitton Cycle. This is going to be a tough day in the saddle with 112 miles of hills!!!
Training is going OK, with a 70 miles ride over the Trough of Bowland giving a decent workout and some tough hills. It’s just a shame punctures interrupted the millage!! Hopefully I’ve got them out the way and they Fred Whitton will be puncture free.........
The challenge starts early (6.30 to 7am) on Saturday 5th May, setting off at Coniston, which will in itself be a challenge!
We then head towards Ambleside and along the Kirkstone Pass towards Patterdale and through to Keswick. From there we head over Buttermere Fell towards Whinlatter Pass. We head down to Calder Bridge and along to Eskdale Green. Hopefully still able to peddle we then hit Hardknott Pass quickly followed by Wrynose Pass, complete with 30% climbs..........we then have the short ride back to Coniston!!!! Easy!!!
.......And we move well into February. Time is ticking and boy do we know it!!!
So what has been happening in the world of madness???
Our first media coverage of 2012 started on a high note with a centre spread in the Halifax Courier. The article feature the Year of Madness story and also featured photographs from Tim Ingram’s 1970’s themed birthday bash in aid of the Year of Madness.
I would like to thank Diane Crabtree at the Halifax Courier for publishing such a great article to promote our suffering for the greater good!!!!
Myself, John and Tim Ingram have registered on one of the Lakeland 50 recce days which covers the 30 mile route from Dalemain to Ambleside. Not only will this be (very) good training but it will allow us to see the route and experience the Lakeland 50 ‘experience’ first hand which can only help come the end of June!!!
The Fred Whitton is booked! We will be taking on arguably the toughest cycling challenge in the UK on Saturday 5th May 2012. A week before the official event, this will allow everyone who expressed an interest to take part.
Training has really picked up with the leave I built up missing those sunny days and beach holidays during the summer to make the most of my training during the shorter days in February and March. I have been out cycling hitting wind, rain, hail and snow, running over Pen Y Ghent in snow and ice whilst keeping up with the old favourite, running to work. I have now managed to average 6.2mph which will just about scrape under the hour mark for the Manchester 10k in May.
So as we move closer to May and the first challenge of 2012 things are picking up nicely for the Year of Madness.
Thanks again for all your support and to those joining a challenge or three!!!!
We have been offered sponsorship for the Tower to Tower cycle challenge from Data Defined. They have offered to cover the cost of the ferry and petrol for support van for the journey. This is very much appreciated as the costs for Myself and John will be quite substantial over the 12 challenges as all costs are coming out of our own pockets.
If any businesses or individuals would like to sponsor a challenge and help with the costs in return for all the publicity we can provide, please get in touch. Any help will be very much appreciated.
Over halfway through January already, time is going way too quick for my liking!!!!
Training has been stepped up with running the 5 miles to work replacing the wonderful bus journey, and missing football to cycle up Pendle hill.
We have eight people signed up for the Fred Whitton cycle which will take place on Saturday 5th May. Forms have been sent off so it is too late to back out now.......
The tower to tower planning is coming on nicely, with 5 intrepid cyclists signed up. The plan is to leave Blackpool Monday 4th June and arrive in Paris Friday 8th June. Thanks to Jonathan Smith for organising the logistics of this event, it is much appreciated!!!
In other news, I have chased the police for an update on my accident back in August. One of the witnesses, the one who passed on the car type and registration has failed to turn up and the police station and give a statement on two occasions and not returned the officers calls, and the other witness now has reported she saw me come off the bike but did not see what caused it. A big shift from her mentioning that because she was crossing on red she may have distracted the car........
The Halifax Courier are to run a double page spread on th Year of Madness and Tim Ingram’s 40th Birthday bash which raised over £600 for the charities. Thanks to Diane Crabtree for running the story. This should be published on Wednesday 25th January, so keep your eyes peeled!!!
So we move into 2012, when the Year of Madness really kicks on.......
....with 10 challenges in just 5 months, between May and September its going to be intense!!!
Before all that though, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and for those of us taking part in the Year of Madness we made the most of the alcohol and cakes, chocolates etc etc!!! Now the training begins!
With 4 months until the first challenge, The Fred Whitton challenge on the 5th May it may seem plenty of time but it will be here before we know it. It is a killer as well, climb after climb after 30% climb for 112 miles. OUCH!!!! Then it's a short break to the Manchester 10k then 2weeks for the Tower 2 Tower. Oh boy!!!
But things are coming together, we are getting some decent sized groups together for each challenge and the enthusiasm shown by people to join in has been amazing. We have planned in a Recce day for the Lakeland 50 on the 1st April taking in part of the route from Dalemain to Ambleside and then the Yorkshire 4 peaks (Pen Y Ghent being climbed twice) all within a planned 10 hours!!!!
The training is going to be worth the sponsorship alone!!!
I also had the offer of another really kind gesture. My Friend Tony gets married on the 11th Feb. The bride’s father is going to mention the Year of Madness is his speech and Tony has donated an Ipad which we will raffle off at the wedding with all the money going to the charities.
Anyway, I best get back to searching for accommodation for the challenges.
Saturday 10th December saw the Year of Madness descend on Wily Wonka and his chocolate factory at Mr Tim Ingram’s 40th birthday celebration.
Eddie and John in all their 70's glory!!!!
It was a fantastic evening with everyone turning out in some wonderful 70’s themed fancy dress outfits. The event was held at the Works in Sowerby Bridge and entertainment from local band Red Star, who did a mix of covers and some of their own, rather good, material. Plus, a more than memorable dance off between black beauty and the lead singer........See the dance off here !
As well as a great night and a few sore heads the next day, £570 was raised for the Year of Madness. With £240 collected for the Year of Madness in lieu of Birthday presents, £100 donation coming from Moorhouses Brewery and The Works at Sowerby Bridge , £87 from the sale of Wonka bars (complete with golden ticket) and collection tins on the bar it was a great night all-round!
We have reached one of our targets already as we have passed the £2000 mark for Macmillan Cancer Support and still 10 challenges to go!!!!
Thanks to Tim, all the lads from the Coast 2 Coast cycle for their wonderful efforts with sponsorship (and the cycling!) and everyone who has donated in any way to the cause.
Following on from the party and the YoM link, the Halifax Courier wants to do a double page article on the Tim’s 1970’s themed birthday party and the Year of Madness!!! This is great news as hopefully the publicity will help boost our totals and raise the profiles of the wonderful work the charities do even more.
So it's been over five weeks since the last challenge, Coast 2 Coast. Training has gone OK taking in a few decent bike rides and my first run in years. I am up to 5 miles in about 50 minutes so far, which is not too bad but is pretty much my limit at the moment.
We have got a decent gathering for the Manchester 10k, which was are running in memory of our good friend Matt Wallbank. Places are still available if anyone wants to join us and raise some cash for CRY.
The Year of Madness dinner dance got some publicity in the December issue of Lancashire Life magazine.
Year of Madness Dinner Dance Pictures.
Planning is underway for the Tower 2 Tower cycling with Jonathan Smith kindly picking up the baton for the challenge and sorting the logistics and passports!!!
Lastly, on the 12th December is chief designer for the Year of Madness, 3 peaks trekker and coast to coast cyclist Tim Ingram’s 40th Birthday. He has requested that he receives no gifts for his Birthday but any donations are made to the Year of Madness fundraising effort.
Happy Birthday for the 12th December Tim and thank you for such a generous offer for these wonderful charities. The downside is I have to dress up in 70's fancy dress and go into Sowerby Bridge.........
So that’s 2 down in the Year of Madness.....still 10 to go!!!
That’s right; the Coast 2 Coast has been completed, all 140 miles from the West coast at Workington right across to Tynemouth on the East Coast. Most ‘normal’ people attempt the C2C in 3 days, but that would not be ‘madness’ would it? No, we decided that 2 days would be more than sufficient!!!
The intrepid cyclists who snubbed team sky preferring instead to represent team Year of Madness are:
And our life-support in the van Cliff Davis.
Day 1 - 15.10.2011
After stocking up on Carbs and keeping hydrated at Workington Weatherspoons, and a good night’s sleep and athletes’ breakfast at the Morven guest house we set off for the 2 mile cycle to the lighthouse in Workington, better known to us as the Start of the C2C. Photographs taken, and a quick glance at the map we were off working on the logic if we were heading away from the sea we were heading in roughly the right direction!!!
The cycle to Keswick was pretty nice despite spending a good few miles from Cockermouth to Keswick on the A66, but with a good cycle path alongside Bassenthwaite Lake and some amazing views it was not too bad and we got the first 30 miles knocked off pretty quick. After a quick refuel with Cliff at Keswick we were off again. Heading out of Keswick we had our first real test with a bit of a beast of a hill. We quickly dropped down the gears hoping not to lose momentum and topple over! Heads down, conversations stopped as we powered on through to the top.......all asking the question ‘I didn’t think we had hills until after Penrith!!!’
The route to Penrith was mainly away from the main roads following quiet roads with some spectacular villages and views.
A quick stop at Greystoke and discussions about lunch fuelled by a rather appealing pub opposite which almost lured us in, but with Cliff and the Van only 6 miles away in Penrith we resisted and headed off to meet them both.
We got into Penrith about 1pm and negotiated the one way system to get to Morrison’s. Grabbing lunch (and Tim Shields a pack of beer for Allenheads!!! Pain relief I was told.....) we knew that despite completing 50 miles the difficult bit was still to come, how little we knew!!!!
After a little trouble getting out of Penrith and Simon taking a tumble and spilling blood for the cause when his chain came off, we were off towards Allenheads once again!!!
As we headed out of Penrith we had no time to settle back into the saddle with a tough hill brining us back to the world of C2C cycling.
We had a decent cycle through to Renwick where we had a quick refuel with Hartside looming in the distance.....when we got there it was a toughie. Not the steepest but pretty long with a couple of switch backs. We reached the top of Hartside about 5pm. Light was still on our side but the daylight was beginning for fade. We took the usual photographs at the top and regrouped and set off for a long but rather cold downhill. Pushing on we reached Garrigill and the sight of a rather inviting pub offering much needed accommodation. The temptation to ditch the Allenheads Inn was strong, but we pushed on looking longingly at the fire and array of fine ales on tap inside...........our sadness was to be short-lived as things got 100 times worse, turning right, straight into a very steep hill. Thankfully I managed to get into a gear low enough to get me on my way. Others were not so lucky and had to switch back to enable a change gear. After a slow ascent we reached the top.
It can’t be far now.........how wrong we were!!! We carried on uphill, though the gradient was a lot more forgiving and then eventually flattened off. We were losing daylight however but we pushed on through to Nenthead. The group had splintered at this point with the hills taking their toll and the cold weather meaning a 5 minute stop to regroup was not a pleasant experience. Seeing a Coast 2 coast sign, we took a right turn at the junction. 7 miles to go......straight into another hill.......
Towards the top we took a left off the main road and followed the sign to Allenheads. I remembered this turn from the map. At the top of this hill we should be able to see Allenheads!!!
We regrouped at the top by the sign for Northumbria. This was the highest point of the Coast 2 coast, Black Hill at 1998 meters. It was now dark and John and Rick had left their back and front lights respectively in the van, so called Cliff to bring them. We looked at the road ahead, venturing down into the Valley. No lights and no sign of a village, only another hill in the distance. This was getting silly now!!!!
We left the rest to wait for Cliff as myself, Tim Ingram, Simon and Ian headed on. We got to the valley and headed up hill (again!!!) at the top we followed the right turn pointing to Allendheads. It was dark now and every bend in the road was a potential accident waiting to happen, but we just wanted some warmth and a beer so pushed on.
Lights in the distance, I can see lights in the distance!!!! It has to be, it just has to be Allenheads...............
We got to a junction, and I saw the sign. Left, Allenheads - 7 miles. I was just about to throw my bike against a wall in despair when I hear Tim shout ‘1 mile to go’ and everyone turned right. It was not Allenheads to the left, it was Allendale!!!
We headed through Allenheads to the Inn where Tim and Gareth were waiting. Heaven!!!!
We ordered our food, put our bikes into the shed and got our bags from the van, as the final few arrived complete with lights!!!
Dumping the bags in the room, Tim Shields got a beer out for me!!! Ha, was the guilt from the Alps still there, when I arrived to find him asleep in the room bags still in the lock up!!!! But it was a welcome sight. We checked in with HQ back home and experienced the comfort of an Allenheads bed!!!
We ventured downstairs to refuel and have a few pints. We got a few comments from the locals on our official year of madness t-shirts, mainly questioning our state of mind!! A few pints and everyone had left the bar and headed to bed by 10pm.........
Day 2 - 16.10.2011
Getting out of bed was almost as much as a challenge as Hartside!!! It was cloudy and had been raining outside. Thankfully the rain was easing off, unlike the pain as I got on the bike! Pushing down on the pedal for the first time on day 2 the pain eased. We headed out of Allenheads and bang, straight into a rather steep hill.......surprisingly I felt pretty good and made good progress up to the top, stopping to take in the view at the top as the cloud start to break. From Currick we headed down to Rookhope as the cloud cleared and the sun started to shine.
In Rookhope we checked the map and followed the sign to the left, as Tim Shields rightly questioned the decision as we caught sight of a sign warning us of the gradient. Unfortunately, it was the right route. After 2 to 3 miles of tough climbing we reached the turn off for the Waskerley Way. Views of Sunderland in the distance and a stop at the cafe for a drink and cake gave us a much needed boost. That also seemed to be the last of the big climbs....fingers crossed!!!
The Waskerley Way was a decent off road path, but was not very smooth and really took its toll especially with Tim and Gareth on road bikes, with both falling foul of the uneven surface and suffering punctures!!!
We followed the Waskerley way to Consett, where we caught up with the others after the puncture pit stops (and yes a chat with the locals!!!).
Leaving Consett we headed on following the cycle path, when we came across a very sad sight. A fellow cyclist was being attended to by paramedics and did not look good. We were told he had a heart attack. As we got closer I saw a Blackburn & District CTC shirt. At first I thought it was one of the group in trouble but they were first on the scene and tried to help the chap. It was a very surreal moment, bumping into people you know from home up in the North East, but the circumstances were pretty distressing to all.
We said goodbye to the CTC group and headed on, with our thoughts and prayers with the cyclist being treated.
The route of Tynemouth was all off road cycle paths, at times being shared with walkers and dogs, which sometimes did their best to send us flying!!!
We headed towards Newcastle following the Tyne, heading under the famous bridge having to push for the first time as we hit a Sunday market all along the side of the river.
We then saw the lighthouse. We were almost there, we had almost done it. Following the final C2C sign and made our way to the sea, and more importantly the finish. Job done, all 140 miles in 2 days!!!
We celebrated and took photographs, updated Facebook for our sponsors and supporters before unpacking our gear from the van and heading our separate ways back home. Thankfully, we had David Levison as our taxi service and had looked after my car and run us to the train station the Friday and picked us up on the Sunday.
The Fred Whitton next......
Well with one challenge out the way just over a week is past and the next one is upon us. This Saturday at 7.30am myself, John, Tim Ingram, Tim Shields, Rick Helliwell, Simon Jones, Ian Crossley, Steven Gully and Gareth Beard will set off from Workington and cycle 80 miles up hill and down dale to our overnight stop at Allenheads before arriving in Newcastle on Sunday (hopefully!!!) afternoon some 55 miles later, and completing challenge 2 of the Year of Madness - The Coast 2 Coast cycle.
Myself and Tim Shields will be getting the train over on Friday from Newcastle through to Workington, so we should be able to make notes so we do not avoid any of the wonderful hills which await on the cycle back.......
So far we have raised £520 on the justgiving site with another £400 or so to come in from paper sponsorship for the Coast 2 Coast. A brilliant effort for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Overall for the 4 chrarities we are upto at least £5000. So thank you all for your help reaching that target. I will sort out where we are at and give you an offical total after the coast 2 coast.
The good news is that I have my fingers back, yes that is right after 6 weeks of the plastic splints my fingers are now free!!!! So as long as I actually make it up any hills, I should in theory now be able to apply the brakes!!!
Myself, John and Tim Ingram have also offically registered for the Lakeland 50. I would call it good news, but I'd be lying :-) We will also be joined by Julia Hartley, who has also completed the Yorkshire 3 peaks for the Year of Madness and Mark Fitzsimmons who has signed up for the Great North Swim.
After this weekend we get a 'break' from the challenges until May when we start all over again with the Manchester 10k. But it will be all training and training and some more training as from May to September we have to complete 10 challenges in a five month period..........
.....The year if Madness has finally begun. 18 months after the first seed of craziness was sown in my slightly warped mind with some training and planning, planning and more planning the first challenge has been completed.
At 6.50am on the 1st October 2011 twelve intrepid adventurers set out to climb 3 peaks and walk 24 miles all in the name of charity (and proving a point to certain people!!!!).
The group were:
Eddie Whittle, John McDonough, Tim Ingram, Dave Eccles, Rachel Tuson, Julia Hartley, Carol Morris, Neil Taylor, Ben Wright, Conor Gaskill, Dan Hockley and Trevor Hockley.
As well as the first challenge getting under-way, it was the first outing for the newly printed, rather smart Year of Madness t-shirts. Up Pen-Y-Ghent we wandered in semi darkness, our bodies wondering what on earth we were doing to them at that time on a Saturday!!! Just over an hour we were at the top.
Next was the long slog to the Ribblehead Viaduct and the start of Whernside. After making good time despite the issue of lots of boggy fields we arrived and stopped for a well deserved spot of lunch at Ribblehead just before 11am. The it was up peak number 2, the highest of the 3.....
.....this is the peak which took hit parts of the group hard. With 12 miles and a peak in the bag and the temperature picking up, it was getting tough. At 12.30pm we hit the top of Whernside to be greeted by glorious views. No time to stop though and it was a fair pace down to the beginning of Inglebourgh.
At this point I had run out of water, a big mistake. Having made it 2/3rds of the way up Inglebourgh I hit the wall badly and the good pace of the day dropped. Finally I reached the top of Inglebourgh and the last peak just before 3pm. Though the pain I was suffering would be minimal compared to the poor souls heading to Ewood about that time!!!
Taking a few minutes to take in the views over to where we had come from, Pen-Y-Ghent and Whernside and the other way to the Lakeland fells and Morecambe bay it was well worth the climb to the top.
Then it was the almost never ending 'stroll' back to the start and the cafe in Horton, with the whole trek taking 10 hours 15 minutes. A little disappointing as I did want to break 9 hours 30 but considering I was out cold in the middle of a Leeds junction and the lack of training over the last 8 weeks I am pretty happy with that!
The fastest of our group came in with an amazing time of 8 hours 42. Well done everyone!!!
But team Year of Madness all got round well under the 12 hour mark to make challenge number one a huge success. Thank you to all who joined the 'fun'.
Here is to the coast 2 coast cycle in 2 weeks!!!!
Well it is almost here. What seems like months and months of planning for the year of madness, the start is insight. Is that a good thing, I'm really not sure!!!!
What a busy weekend it's been. Went for a wander in the Dales taking in Whernside and Inglebourgh on Friday in a last ditch attempt to be fit enough for the 3 peaks and picked up my Ribble bike. Managed to get 45 minutes on Sunday, which was good as it was the first ride since being knocked off. It is surprising how vulnerable you suddenly feel on a bike after an accident. But it is done now and after the 3 peaks I need to get a few miles in as the Coast 2 Coast cycle is closing in........
What I do know is we have a fair old gathering for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, with about 15 people taking on the 24.5 mile route around the Yorkshire Dales. It also looks like we may get some decent weather, which really would make the day much more bearable.....so the compeed is at the ready!!!
A big day today as the offical Year of Madness T-shirts have been sent to the printers and will be ready for the 3 peakers. Big thanks to Tim Ingram at Wright Angle Marketing - http://www.wrightanglemarketing.com/
for designing and sorting the printing of the t-shirts and also to Andy at Pennine Lancashire Accountancy - http://www.penninelancashireaccountancy.co.uk/ for sponsorship of the T-shirts.
Also a big thank you to Rachel and Mark at the Fuzzy Duck Food Company http://www.thefuzzyduck.co.uk/ for gathering a team to join us and raising over £100 sponsorship.
The Year of Madness T-shirt:
So it is now only ten days until the revised start of the Year of Madness......time to lay low and avoid anything that could cause pain, suffering and injury......sounds like the Year of Madness!!!
Got a stroll up Pen Y Ghent in on Sunday and got up and down in 1 hour 35 which is my quickest time yet. Started the 6.30 walk to work again on Monday and plan another 9.6 mile round trip tomorrow. So all in all I'm not feeling to bad for the 3 peaks.
The coast 2 coast is worrying me slightly, especially day one with 80 miles and some pretty nasty hills to navigate over it will be tough seeing as the only bike I have been on since the 18th August is 40 minutes on the one at the gym........still it's only pain :-)
Still at least we have got some publicity from my altercation with a car thanks to the Clitheroe Advertiser and the Fuzzy Duck's latest news writer!!!
Fame at last!!!
So onto the 3 Peaks. We have an early start meeting at the Cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale at 6.30am ready for a 6.45am start.
The latest figure for people taking part is 12, which is fantastic. I just hope we get some fantastic weather.
As ever, thank you all for the support.
Having been told all is OK in respect of broken bone's a
return visit to A&E on the 17th August changed all that after an x-ray
showed two broken fingers and the beginning of the end for challenge number one
of the Year of Madness.
The initial diagnosis was that I would need metal rods inserted into the ends of my fingers which would stay in place for 4 to 6 weeks. Canoeing was not going to be an option and possibly the 3 peaks and especially coast to coast would not be happening.......
......on the Wednesday evening I got a call from the hospital to say the senior consultant had seen my x-ray and the operation would not be required. Splints would suffice. I now have big lumps of plastic around each of my broken fingers which will stay in place for six weeks.
Having spoken to Action Medical Research we can move our registration and current fund-raising to next years Race the Sun. Thankfully John, Nick and Richard agreed to switch the date which will now be sometime in early September 2012. This means that we will have to complete 10 challenges in 6 months, from May 2012 to October 2012.
Training for the 3 peaks should be fine; however I will struggle riding a bike for the duration of the splints being in place, so it will be the bike at the gym and damage limitation in terms of not losing the fitness I have gained over the last 6 months.
As things stand the police are still investigating the 'accident' and I am awaiting contact so I can give a statement. I was a little annoyed that the details of witnesses I had given to the officer when I reported the incident had not been passed on to the investigating officer who was therefore surprised when I asked what the witnesses to the 'accident' had said.........so we shall wait and see and hopefully get a positive result.
So after all that the new start date for the Year of Madness will be Saturday 1st October, with the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
.......and so it begins all over again. The pain and long days on my feet or in the saddle of previous challenges fade into a distant memory and the pull of a new challenge begins. Except this time it is not just one challenge it is twelve of them!!!
Well with just over two weeks to go until the Race the Sun and the start of the Year of Madness, I get involved in an altercation with a car and then the road (Thursday 18th August). As I passed through a junction in Leeds (lights on green I may add :-) ) a car waiting to turn right decides they will go and cut right across my path.
I hit the brakes and try to swerve, closing my eyes as I wait for the inevitable bang and explosion of pain as I hit the car. I stop dead, the car makes it past and I fly over my handle bars, face first into the concrete. After that I remember nothing, I am then trying to keep upright with the help of a bollard in the middle of the road, wondering what had just happened. The car had gone.......
.......thankfully three people came to my aid and asked if I was all right. Good question!!! I tried to move but my legs were jelly so I remained hugging my new best friend the bollard! A kind chap came and gave my the number plate of the driver, which is now in the hands of West Yorkshire police.
At the time of asking the driver has denied all wrong doing and never saw me. Thankfully, I have better eyesight and managed to brake. My face is pretty smashed and my hands are a real mess, but after a trip to A&E nothing is broken and I should be OK for the 3rd September and Race the Sun.
But after Paralympian Simon Richardson was seriously injured in an alleged hit-and-run this week, I was pretty lucky and very relieved that after months of planning, training and organising a dinner dance I can carry on with the whole thing.
It is a shame really that something like this has taken the edge of what I'm sure will be an interesting first challenge and 12 months.
The feeling (apart from pain in the hands as I type this.....) is a mixture of excitement, nerves and worry that my last 2 weeks of preperation will be largely redundant as I recover. I do believe I have put in enough miles to get through in a decent enough time, and with the team of John, Nick and Richard we'll all pull together and do a good job and we'll keep smiling throughout!!!
Support is growing for the Year of Madness as well, with people putting themselves forward to join in a challenge or two and raise money for our wonderful charities.
Top of the list at the moment, with three challenges to his name is our chief designer, Tim Ingram, who has signed up for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, the Coast 2 Coast cycle and the Lakeland 50. He has also convinced 4 of his friends the Coast 2 Coast will be a good idea so we now welcome on board, Tim, Simon Jones, Steve Gully, Ian Crossley, Rick Helliwell. Welcome aboard chaps!!!
Training has been pretty intense with 6am starts for the 5.75 mile walk to work, which has dropped by a mile after an office move, cycling to work, and walking the dales and cycling, Pendle Hill, Waddington Fell through the Trough of Bowland and everywhere in between. This will of course continue after the Race the Sun as we gear up for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and two weeks after the Coast 2 Coast cycle!!!
Anyway, once again a BIG BIG thank you to everyone who has supported us in any way, even if its just words of encouragement. It is all very much appreciated by us all!!!