Day Two Penrith to Allenhead
What a beautiful start to day 2 of our C2C cycle ride. The sun was shining and we filled our belly with ‘the full monty’.
We were hoping to be swiftly away this morning as it was the most challenging day of the ride. Hills, hills, and a few hills thrown in for good measure, BUT me again!! This bloody stomach! I just couldn’t get off the loo and when I did it was a quick march straight back to it. When I eventually got to my bike it was already gone 10am.
I’d been trying to slope off on the quiet but it’s a bit hard not to bring attention to yourself when the whole team is sat outside waiting for you. We were riding as a team but I was holding them all up.
After the rudimentary morning start photo we were off, starting out from Penrith and ending the day at Allenheads.
Finally start day 2
To start our day there was a little climb out of Penrith but about half a mile in it soon became apparent that our rock, Chris, was struggling. He hadn’t felt well from the night before (no it wasn’t drink) and did look a little peaky through breakfast. As each for us reach an intersection in the climb we gathered to wait for everyone. It was worrying to look back down the hill and see Chris pushing his bike. Something was definitely wrong.
We all knew he wasn’t good but as we do, we shouted encouragement with light banner …. Ginner (Chris) get out of the way that little girl wants to get past!!! … There was a little girl of about 6 years old cycling up the hill on the pavement with her father alongside.
By the time Chris reached us he was struggling with his breathing, sweat was pouring from him, he looked dreadful. Keeping it calm we helped him off with his camel pack, gloves and helmet trying to cool him down. We got him into the shade (it was already a scorcher of a morning) and he started to come around a little. Chris was all so calm about it saying it was a bit like an asthma attack and that was him done for the day. We called the van to come back for him and he assured us he would be ok and to carry on without him.
We all set off again without Chris and I have never heard our team be as quiet. I think we were all thinking the same, he’s going to be ok isn’t he, he’s Ginner. And yes just to put your mind at rest he is and was ok.
At 5.5 miles in we were stopping again and it wasn’t ME! There’s a lovely village green in Langwathby were a few cycle routes cross over each other and lots of groups have a breather there. We HAD to stop because our driver, Neil had parked there and got us all an ice lolly and it would have been rude not to eat it!! The weather, too hot for an unfit fatty on a bike!
It’s hard when you are not a cyclist and you’re trying to pace yourself over a long distance or as in this case over 3 days. I didn’t want to take all day but nor did I want to make my usual mistake of going off too fast at the start and running out of energy.
I felt ok pain wise. Backside was not a problem, there’s generally that bruised sore bum stance you take for first few miles on day two if you are not used to lots of cycling but I wasn’t suffering that. Back pain and hand pain yes but nothing that an Ibuprofen rub couldn’t help with.
The call of nature stops were becoming less frequent thankfully but when you can enjoy scenery like this instead of the back of a toilet door with its advertising boards for plumbers, window cleaners and car rental, you really don’t mind having the odd nature break!
In my mind the big challenge of the day was Hartside Moor, the highest point on the Coast to Coast at 1900ft.
You know me for giving in too easily, so at about the 11 mile mark I was off and pushing.
Could I have tried harder on the bike before pushing? … probably…. Was I disappointed to be pushing … Definitely! …. I stood there for what seemed an age before yelling up the road to Chez … ‘that’s it, I’m off, I’m pushing’…
I could feel myself welling up and began my usual self rants …. You bloody lazy arse, you unfit lardy, why didn’t you do more training, Why can’t you just do it! Aaarrghh, bloody, bloody lazy arse!!….. And we hadn’t even started up Hartside!!
We’d all started to split up by this point. The 2 Jay’s were off the front with Seppe in tow and the rest of us were never far away from each other behind. Tom could have quite easily been up front with the others as he is very fit but not used to long rides on consecutive days so was pacing steadily just in front of me, Chez and Big D.
I like to think I only pushed in small sections. When the road was very steep and I had run out of gears (my new birthday bike doesn’t have as many as my ‘old’ bike) I either stopped, had a breather and got back on or pushed past the hard little section then got back on again.
On Strava when it’s showing 2 miles per hour, I was pushing, 3 and over I was cycling, yes believe it or not I can do something on a bike …. Ride at the slowest pace possible … 3 miles per hour without falling off! Achieve!
Well … that hill just kept going up and so did we, slowly but surely. When you near the top of Hartside there is a short cut to miss out the switch back on the road but the track is rough with loose gravel. Tom was on a mountain bike and was going the off road route and made it look easy.
As I rode up to it I knew in my mind I would take the short cut, why wouldn’t you. I kept looking across at it as I cycled round the bends up to it BUT then I started looking beyond to the road section, longer but there was a good chance I would be able to cycle it and not have to get off and push like I knew I would have to on the short cut….. that’s it … I went past the track and carried on up the road …. You fool….. and because I went, Chez followed, bless her, we were struggling as much as each other but we both went for it…… and made it!!!
The going up was worth the coming down – well almost
Time was ticking by and we had stopped for far too long feeding our faces at the cafe. Chris pointed out that he didn’t think we would make the end of day cut off time. We were stopping in Allenheads and the only place in the village able to feed us was the Allenheads Inn BUT we had to be there for 6pm or they couldn’t say when they could feed us they were fully booked all night.
It wasn’t something I wanted to hear, that I might not cycle the whole route YET AGAIN! Chris was talking sense but I didn’t want to hear it.
Off we went again and this time enjoyed the rewards of the going up with a lovely coming down. 3 miles of fantastic down. It would have been 4 miles but they had resurfaced the road and it was covered in loose chippings. You could feel your bike slipping all over and at the bottom on the steepest section there was a junction with piles of loose chippings.
I can’t remember just where we met up with the van again but I really didn’t want to get in it even though I knew we were running out of time. We agreed that we would ride on to Garrigill and see from there.
When I set off again to Garrigill I knew that I would have to get in the van otherwise we wouldn’t get fed that night. I could feel myself starting to well up. I didn’t want to fail again.
Garrigill is a lovely little village and it was having an annual tractor event. The village was full of tractors of all ages. It was a wonderful sight even though I didn’t really appreciate it.
The van was parked near some seating on the village green. I rode up to the bench, got off the bike and sat on the bench with my head bowed low starring at the ground. I couldn’t look at anyone, I was so gutted and distraught at YET AGAIN not completing a ride. I felt the tears run down my face in self pity.
BUT it wasn’t just that. I had stopped 3 other people for completing the day too. Everyone had waited for me and my bloody stomach in the morning so we were late to set off and now I had made these people make a choice between finishing the days ride or getting fed that night. I was embarrassed and gutted for all of them.
An undeserved downhill
Embarrassingly in the van we went up hill and down dale over Nenthead Moor, about 8 miles. Looking at the terrain I knew in my heart that, 1. I may not have made it at all, 2. If I had it would have been midnight before I had finished.
Chris was the voice of reason yet again, better to fuel up and have a good ride tomorrow. It was a very bitter pill to swallow.
We were dropped off at the top of a lovely descent 3 miles from the finish. I really did feel like I had cheated and really didn’t deserve this downhill. I had to pay for it in some way and I nearly did! … almost riding into the back of the van as I chased it down the hill.
The van had to slow for tight corners, cyclists and road work traffic lights so I was after it. If I was being given a downhill, I had to work for it. One advantage of being overweight is downhill cycling, you go bloody fast!!! That fast, that as I closed in extremely quickly to those rear red brake lights all I could hear myself saying as I anchored on the brakes was…. please stop, please stop, please stop!!!
Light bike Heavy body wins downhill every time!!
End of a trying day
It had been a strange day. From the early worries over Chris in the morning to the triumph of climbing Hartside Moor, to the sheer disappointment of having to get into the van.
Finishing the day outside Allenheads Inn (beautiful food, you must try it) Neil and Chris give me a bit of banter about chasing them down the hill. Knowing how disappointed I was, Chris (still not at his best) came over …. ‘I know you don’t like being told what to do but better to fuel up today and be fit for tomorrow’ …. I gave him a hug and thanked him for his wise words but yet again those tears of self pity were welling in my eyes and I had a walk away.
Walking back to join the gang outside the pub there were jibes of … ‘where you been?’… ‘behind a bush again!’ …. ‘there’s toilets in the pub you now!’
…. And that’s how we roll, disappointment overcome by piss take! Works every time!!
Thank you for reading my waffle. As you can tell it was an emotional day BUT….
…..every day has an end and every end a new beginning….
If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, and try some more. If you give up trying you will never know if you COULD have done it!
Take care and keep save