Touring England

Date of Journey May 2009
Ian Hutchinson Huddersfield

In 2009, being the wrong side of 50 I decided to set myself a challenge. It had to be something that I hadn’t done before and it had to be sufficiently hard that I didn’t know whether I could do it. I settled on the Coast2Coast bike ride – from Whitehaven to Sunderland – about 150 miles in total. I read up about it and most people seemed to do it over 3 days, so to add to the challenge, I decided on 2 days.

We pitched our caravan at a site on top of the Pennines and drove to Whitehaven on a wet and blustery September morning. I set off at dawn, with the plan that my wife was to meet me in Keswick (to give support and check that I had survived!).

I wore a good pair of cycling shorts and a Rohan Element tee shirt with a Goretex jacket, which between them kept me warm and dry. I’d say that good cycling shorts are an essential for this sort of thing.

All went well to start with, until my right peddle snapped off, about 20 miles into the ride! This was just before the climb over Whinlatter Pass. I struggled on, using just the axle stub and could feel my left leg getting bigger as it was doing all the work. I stopped part way up the hill, exhausted. But then I remembered that I had a couple of energy gels in my back pocket. I wolfed one down, got back on the bike and rode to the top.....and to the bike shop there, where I got a new pair of peddles fitted.

The ride down the hill towards Keswick felt great, despite the rain, which was pouring by then. I re-fuelled in Keswick, then back on the bike heading for Penrith. Onwards and upwards I went (literally!) over the Pennines, to where we had left our caravan for an over-night rest. We had pasta for dinner, with me standing up and walking around regularly, to avoid cramp and stiffness setting in.

The next day saw better weather but still plenty of hills as I climbed through the North Pennines and into the Land of the Prince Bishops. I’d never been to Sunderland before, but it looked pretty wonderful to me, as it meant the end of the ride.

I finished the ride in two days and in the process raised £2,000 in sponsorship for Yorkshire Cancer Centre.