The C2C Class of 2017
Back Row: Peter Howes, Gary Thompson, Hayden Wilson, David Wardle, Neil Eaton, Nicky Green, Simon Owen Front Row: Mark Nichol, Tim Coates, Mark Lee, John Turner, Ailish Graham, James Bullivant, Saul Clapton
Firstly, I would like to give James Bullivant huge thanks for organising the 2017 Coast to Coast (C2C) in a Day. James rode the C2C in 2016 and decided to take on the challenge of organising the ride this year. There were some good friends absent from the original start sheet, but their stand ins proved equal to the challenge in both ride and entertainment! But what goes on tour, stays on tour!!
Being a bit slow to book accommodation, we found ourselves 11 miles from the start, but no one complained or passed sly comments. I'm sure that all will agree the 'The incident of the curious banana' made it all worthwhile.
As far as the ride goes, some of us rolled out with no great expectations while others had a goal in mind. Spending the day riding 150miles of tailwind is one hell of an experience, the following is a brief extract of some of the individual’s experiences.
Unfortunately, just before Mark Nichol hit the big one, Hardknott, he had a gearing failure that left him without the last 2 gears, leaving him with a 25 at best, but he still got through without walking. At the Windermere ferry stop the event mechanic managed to sort his gears only for Mark to get a puncture later and found him pump decided it wasn't going to work, luckily a passing rider offered to assist but unfortunately this meant Mark missed out on Gold.
John Turner enjoyed every minute of his ride, he started strong (maybe too strong playing with the big boys) and was happily averaging 18+mph. He thought to himself that this cannot go on for long and probably should stop this silliness, but was having way too much fun, especially once he saw Hardknott. Being Diabetic, after the ferry ride and pretty much all through the day John was having an uphill battle (excuse the pun) with his sugar levels always being low. The food stops helped but he just could not seem to get them high enough to keep his speed up. He admits he was a mess, but glad to have finished and was very happy with his achievements of the day.
Tim Coates came to a standstill on Hardknott and put a foot down, but restarted and didn't walk one stride. After the ferry Ailish, John Gary and Hayden and Tim stuck together to the first feed station where ‘team players’ Gary and Hayden snuck off, was it the shame of Gary wearing a girl’s top, or maybe Hayden wanted to sandbag a faster group! The rest of them worked well as a team (even when Tim missed a turn) but John was battling his sugar levels. After a bit, it was down to Tim and Ailish, she blasted up the climbs and Tim would get back on the descents and flats. That lasted until Tim was dropped, so the last 20 or so was a solo ride for him. Hopes of a ten-hour gold time were long gone, and he thought silver might be 11, Tim was 15 miles from home and needed to dig in to make it. Tim pushed and pushed, and caught Mark coming into town and they absolutely flew through the town centre. The applause was great, and in the excitement Mark slipped in front of Tim to be scanned in - dirty tricks.
At dinner the evening before Neil Eaton said he was going for Gold. Neil did ride with the group until the start of Hardknott, during those next few miles up hill he thought “why the hell am I doing this”. While getting a coffee at the ferry some of the others rolled up and Neil got coffee orders in to save them queuing. After the ferry, Neil was happy for some company, however this didn’t last long once we got to the next hill and Neil found himself riding solo for the most of the day. At the first feed station, Neil didn't stop as it was too busy. During the day others riders asked Neil are you “On a Mission” or do you “Have a train to catch”. Neil rolled through the next feed stations only getting water while flying by groups of riders on the road until he meet 4 VSCC riders just before the last feed station. After the last feed station the legs still felt strong and 2 VSCC rider got dropped, the other 2 dropped Neil in the last 15 miles as his head wasn’t in the game anymore (possibly due to dehydration). Seeing the sea at Whitby revitalised Neil and he flew into the finish with the 6th best time of the day. Next time Neil would like to ride with others and not be a billy no mates.
Nicky Green had a great ride - loved it! - she was going well, time wise until her gear cable snapped and she had to go back to the 2nd feed for it to be fixed. These things happen though! Nicky still loved the second half of the ride just as much on her own, meeting different people, having the craic, whilst also cracking on! Nicky did just over 170 miles in the end with an average of 17mph. and thinks if she’d done 150 miles the ride time in around 8hrs 45ish (not including the stops). Nicky certainly enjoyed my well-earned celebratory drinks at the end.
Simon Owen did the C2C in 2015 and had a cracking time, but had a few demons that needed putting to rest. The first stretch from Seascale gave Simon the chance to remind himself not to do too much work, or be afraid to drop off a group that was going faster than he wanted to, so he did just that. Heading up Hardknott it was down to finding the rhythm, relax where he could and go for the wide, flatter lines encouraging others to do the same who were trying to attack the hill where it could bite back! The rest of the ride passed well with a tailwind helping everyone along the way at their own pace. It was fun breezing in to feed stations, having a quick chat and then getting on our way. The first-time Simon did it he was looking for a fast time, but tried too hard to get it and ended up having a good time enjoying the scenery, taking photos and having a natter instead. This time Simon got the fast time, but lost something else. Still, he laid demons to rest, proved that he can pace himself well in a group (for a change) and enjoyed the day a lot, plus the evening a whole lot more!
After a difficult week where Haydon Wilson felt exhausted and tired throughout he was quite worried about the massive challenge that lie ahead. It can be an added challenge when you rock up and don't know too many people, but as usual it was great to meet and be warmly welcomed by the great people of Alba Rosa cycling club. Haydon had never done a 150 ride and had never experienced anything like Hardknott and Wrynose so he was quite uncertain about how his body would react to the hills of the North York Moors at 120 miles in!! Haydon had a great ride to the ferry with a small group of Albas which included Aylish, Tim and Joh. Later in the day Haydon and Gary (his friend and team player|) rode as a two smashing the miles with Gary doing most of the work. Buggar! At the 4th feed station they both felt ok and headed for the hills of the North York Moors, enjoying the tailwind. About 10 miles from Whitby Gary rode off and left Haydon to enjoy the last ten miles on his own. Gary and Haydon both managed to reach their 10 hour target and achieved gold standard.
What a great day! Good roll out from the hotel and then the off. David Wardle soon realised quickly he was in the wrong group - that is, the fast one - so eased up and sat in with 'group two'. Nice pace up to and over Hardknott where for some inexplicable reason Mr Cramp decided to join him (and stayed with him for most of the next 50 miles). Dropped on the descent of Wrynose, David thought he'd catch up with the group at the Ferry, but as he pulled in the rest of the gang waved as they had just set sail... David spent the next section solo, taking the opportunity to ease off a little 'til the second feed/lunch-stop. During the second half of the ride he felt only the odd (and more normal) muscle twinge. A mostly solo ride to the last feed where he bumped into Tim, Ailish, Mark and John. John was still refuelling so joined David for a good last 30 miles, pulling into Whitby just after 6pm. Very satisfied and gagging for a beer. Stunning ride; great craic; thanks to all for the fun.
Well where do you start on summing up an awesome weekend on the C2C with the Alba massive? Mark Lee spent the first few miles going steady and with Hardknott looming on the horizon didn't want to burn any bridges too early. He's been up there before, so knew what to expect and as usual didn't disappoint with the last switchbacks proving as hard as before, only Wrynose to get up and down now. On to the Ferry over Windemere and a bit of rest & coffee courtesy of the 'machine' Neil Eaton! After a brief stop at the 1st feed station in Kendal it was a rolling section onto Hadraw on which James Bullivant put the hammer down and dropped Mark. Mark caught up with James and Nicky at the next feed station and they set off as a group until unfortunately Nicky had a mechanical so it was agreed to leave her to pursue Gold aspirations. (Nicky got sorted ok) A nice rolling section with a few spikes saw Mark and James onto Tunstall for some more refreshment as the weather seemed to be looking up as did their speed courtesy of a nice tailwind. Unfortunately, James Bullivant saw fit to re-enact scenes from the Giro Italia this year by taking advantage of Mark's 'Comfort Break' and left him to solo to the final feed station. Mark, Simon and James got back together later to enjoy the final lumpy leg to Whitby, and knowing Gold was on for the 3 of them they upped the pace. The final chase into Whitby and the wonderful welcome received when crossing the finish line summed up a fantastic day in the saddle! They met up with Neil Eaton who had performed a superhuman effort finishing 1hr+ ahead of them! With targets achieved Mark, Simon, Neil and James all agreed the favourable conditions meant their personal times would be hard to replicate.
The day before the ride Peter Howes was packing his bag getting ready to ride to the bus and realised he had butterflies in his stomach. Maybe it was the realisation of what lay ahead or maybe it was the lack of training, but once on the road, it felt good. Once he set off from the start line he stuck together with the rest of the group for the most part until we got to Hardknott, this is where Peter knew he had to take it steady and go at his own pace, he had to step off at the hairpin where it was wet through (in hindsight wishes he'd pushed through), Wrynose pass felt a little easier after that and then it was straight through to Kendal. The only other hill Peter was bothered about was Limber hill 10 miles from the finish however, this didn't seem that bad, it was steep but short. It was the hill coming out of Kendal that caught him off guard as it seemed to go into eternity. Peter was the last Alba to get to the finish line but having only just completed his first century ride two weeks previous he knew that would be the case. Looking back Peter realises how much he enjoyed it and it was made all the better by having great banter with the rest of the guys and girls in the pub after.
The evening in Whitby helped develop and cement some great friendships and for James was the cherry on his bakewell tart.
It was great to see so many of our neighbours, The Valley Striders, en-route and enjoying post event drinks in Whitby.