A group of 11 intrepid adventure seeking cyclists gathered at Whitehaven in Cumbria on the evening of 8thJune, ready for the Coast to Coast challenge which is rapidly becoming a must for all cyclists.
There are many ways to cross the country , but with the Route Master Ian in charge the group were in for a treat. The Chapeau route takes the best of the original Coast to Coast road route, with great little additions to ensure the scenery is enhanced which takes some doing for The Lakes , Chapeau !!
We set off dipping the rear wheels in the water at Whitehaven.
Then off on the route to Ennerdale which is the most Westerly water in the Lakes. Double D, intrepid cyclist and Director of Chapeau rode with the group who soon formed two distinct parts – Richard the elite cyclist off miles at the front enjoying peace and quite with the rest of the group chatting and enjoying the beautiful countryside. The group hailed mainly from Liverpool hence the jokes came thick and fast – until the hills started to restrict the laughter.
Whinlater Pass came next Average gradient: 7%, Max gradient: 15% and as this is part of the 100 best climbs – it is a test. Stunning views and a great downhill follows the summit at over 1200ft.
A cheeky cafe stop was followed by an impromptu water stop provided by Chapeau – and one of the more beautiful stops just outside Mungrisdale ( I would say that as I was in the Luton Van and I located it and set it up !! ) Slightly more beautiful than the one I set up after about 20 miles near Lowesater , but only just.
Whilst the group were enjoying a well earned rest and rehydration, Michelle had driven forward to the Boot and Shoe Pub at Greystoke ( Tarzan etc etc ) to speak to the pub and get them ready for our troops – the menu was sent back to the water stop and lunch was pre-ordered so there was not a big wait and time for the legs to cool. A beautiful pub found by Michelle who seems to have a knack for routing out the best stops.
The weather was beautiful, the banter was flowing – the Lakes were looking at their best what could go wrong ……………………………………………………. Torrential downpour, thunder and lightning. It may have been short-lived but it was spectacular and added something to the ride , perhaps not top of the list but this is England.
It all got a little damp on a small climb !! up to Hartside – with a famous café on the top which has now burnt down. As can be seen its high up and takes some climbing but with Ian the route master/and master mechanic fixing punctures and other assorted mechanicals – everyone made it over and into the sunshine on the other side.
82 miles and 7244ft of climbing – Chapeau to all and a well-deserved rest at a lovely Country House Hotel , Nent Hall. Beautiful surroundings and a great evening meal sat round a large table having a few drinks, all the crew and customers together sharing the days experiences.
Day one Coast 2 Coast – done and off for a great nights sleep .
Daybreak and the crew are up , sorting bikes out which need minor repairs. Customers all enjoying the Country House Breakfast, weather is looking fantastic.
Information provided by Michelle confirms to the team, “it’s a bit lumpy” straight away. Advise is given and route cards show everything but we are up to 2000ft within a few miles. It’s a tough start through the North Pennines area of natural beauty. Deserted roads , save for sheep straying – only a few other cyclists with bikes fully laden panniers , packed lunches etc etc – there are doing it themselves and often looking at our water stops, lunch stops, mechanics, riders on the road, director in vehicles providing support thinking “next year”.
Michelle sets up on a long decent to take some action shots – hard work on the ascents, mean a bit of fun on the descents
Great camera work, get a support vehicle in the shot !! Some of the group likes the downhills so much, they carry on off route for another. When one goes off route, the others followed. Ian likened Colin and a few others to sheep, making the noises at them as he drives along side.
Up and up through Rookhope and onto Stanhope , not before another impromptu water stop. The trip did not really have as part of the offering the stops, but it’s another warm day and so bananas, crisps, energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, crisps, tea and coffee all sorted to support the customer. High up on the Stanhope road, close to the Durham/Northumbria border is the stop , found once again by yours truly, yet another magical view
More work for Ian , Cleats need changing and the odd puncture but nothing too serious but despite beautiful early morning sunshine – the darks clouds are chasing us.
More showers, more thunder but it just adds to the adventure. Our group are well supported, but now battle hardened from the day before and take it without any fuss – however Mark and Greg did a little detour. All meet up, finally, at the Starbucks in Consett , we have had enough English scenery and culture for the weekend and the group need a caffeine boost.
We then pick up the cycle route, Double D in charge – both him and Ian have ridden this trip many times and it’s busy into Newcastle so we have an eye on safety and the last 20 miles is on cycle paths.
Arriving on the Quayside in Newcastle the weather is much better
No Fog on the Tyne for Chapeau Events for us on a great Sunday afternoon. Its then onto the Coast at North Shields.
All have to dip the front wheels in the water, Matt followed shortly after this picture with Double D as a puncture had slowed him within a mile of the finish – but of course he made it.
All finished and a quick change whilst bikes loaded onto the waiting Van – then customers and crew have a final meal in a little Italian near the quayside – everyone is starving. Day two was 60 miles but another 4000ft of climbing , stunning downhills, beautiful views , wonderful support staff !!, great hotels, good food , banter and a lot more.
After the meal, into the crew vehicles for the trip back over to the start point of Whitehaven and then onto home.
140 Miles ridden, 11200ft of climbing only one thing to say to the group;
Neil Birchenough 11thJune 2018