Saturday, 9 June 2012

C2C Coast to Coast

Becky, just before dipping our back wheels into the Irish Sea
Here's the ingredients of our C2C cycle ride, from Silloth to Tynemouth....

In numbers:

Miles: 110                     Punctures: 0
Days: 3                          Travelodge nights: 4
Kids: 3                           Adults: 2
Back-up Mums: 2          Sun burnt: 0
Cycle Route: 72            Days we got wet: 2
Wrong way: 2                Steep hills walked: 0

Hannah, Kate & Becky.  I just can't remember what Dave was getting them to count.

Day 1

We stayed the night before the start at the M6 Travelodge called Southwaite, just a few miles south of Carlisle and started the C2C ride from Silloth.  We maintained the tradition of dipping our back tyres into the Irish Sea before we left and although we felt a bit daft climbing up and down with our bikes, we drew some comfort in knowing the local folk must be used to this kind of spectacle.  Once on the road it took us a little while to get into the right pace i.e. not too fast or slow and a few minor adjustments to saddle heights etc.

Dave had worked out the route beforehand as he knew I would easily get us all hopelessly lost at least twice each day.  We aimed to keep off any main roads as much as we could and this worked fine throughout.

The first day was about 42 miles heading inland.  Not too hilly although Hannah maintains she had " Mum I cycled up at least three mountains today".  We finished at Brampton which is about 10 miles east of Carlisle.  Rachel and Ruth picked us up and took us back to the Travelodge before getting us there for an early(ish) start the following day.  A few comments about sore bottoms but everyone was keen for.....

Day 2

In Brampton, ready for C2C Day 2
That's me in the middle.  You might be wondering why I'm on a mountain bike which is too small for me.  Answer: girl (Becky) on right hand side who is hankering for a new bike and wanted to have a go on mine, the Thorn Audax Mk3.  Before we set off I lowered the seat, swapped the pedals and tilted the handlebars up for her.  She loved riding my bike and I hated riding hers - a neat reminder of why riding a bike with the seat too low is hard work and painful.

This day contained some fantastic scenery having progressed from gently undulating countryside in Day 1 through to a more rugged and exposed landscape as we climbed out of Henshaw and past the Chesterholm Roman site up onto some stunning scenery.  Going up was quite a struggle for Hannah (12) and not a very experienced cyclist.  She's not alone in leaving it too late to change into a low gear with a steep climb ahead and then grind to a halt when the low gear doesn't click in time.  Her solution?  Go back down to a flatter part and do it again: I really admired her for that.  Although the ascent was slow, she did it with a fair amount of "Daddy how long will this mountain take?" and singing made-up funny songs.  

Once we made it to the top, it seemed we had several miles of gentle free wheeling before we descended into Hexham, where we finished our second day.  While we were going down, man did the heavens open?  It was fantastic!  Talk about raining cats, dogs and stair rods!  It felt like we were cycling down a river at one point!

Day 3

Hexham to Tynemouth was easy on the Sustrans Cycle Route 72, so no need for Dave to keep an eye on the prepared route and no chance of me getting us lost (well, not much).  

This was a ride of real contrasts.  Firstly it was very different to the previous day and secondly within the ride itself we had some lovely riverside pastures and right through to the metropolitan areas of Newcastle.  Not many hills (or Mountains) for Hannah to sing her way up.

And then we made it to Tynemouth for the tyre dipping ritual once again.  Rachel and Ruth were there waiting for us with hugs, cheers and praise for the girls having made it.  I had previously promised Hannah and ice cream once we'd finished and the one and only ice cream van drove off as we arrived!  Nevertheless, the mums had a really nice hot meal lined up for us in a near-by pub where we could all reflect on the miles and smiles of the C2C route.
We made it!
Will we do this kind of thing again?  Yep, hope so!


  1. Sounds like you had fun! And a route I've not considered before, great for a long weekend family ride. Glad to hear you did it 'properly' and dipped your tyres at either end!

    1. Thanks Stuart. Last year when we were in Cumbria we spotted a number of C2C cyclists on a few different routes, so plenty of scope for exploring other routes and challenges.