Your Trips

C2C on a restored 1974 Raleigh Chopper

June 14th, 2013 by Nigel Bradley

Hi,

I have completed the C2C many times (one ina day) as well as many other rides HCW (in a day) and Lands End John O’Groates (9 days).
This year I’m back to C2C but I’m making it really difficult for myself as I’m attempting it on a restored 1974 Raleigh Chopper MKII. For more information about the training and planning www.purplechopper.co.uk.

Read the Full Trip Account below:

Day 1 – Whitehaven – Penrith

The weekend had finally arrived(22-24/6/2013).

The final riders (for all 3 days) would be John Bell, Jed Woodhouse, Carl Rutter, Ian Hall and myself and we will be joined for all of day 2 by Ian Poppleton and Richard Nutt - the last 2 would be arriving by train and leaving after our departure and therefore finishing after we finished day 1.

I’d arranged an 8 o’clock rendezvous in Tescos car park in Whitehaven (which hadn’t gone down well with Mr Bell). I got dropped off by Mrs B where we met up with Simon who had been a late withdrawal to our trip but wanted to come and see us off and snigger at the pending weather forecast. It was the day of the Whitehaven festival so things were busy as we arrived and there seemed to be loads of cyclists, in amongst them turned out to be 50 ladies from the Penrith/Carlisle area who were doing the ride for  https://www.facebook.com/HospiceatHomeCarlisleandNorthLakeland - please like their page on Facebook.

One of the guys who was also doing the ride asked if he could have a go on the Chopper which I said was OK. He cycled 10 metres in the car park and shouted back “it’s got no brakes”, my reply was “it has 1974 brakes mate” :-) I must say the (lack of efficient) brakes and the descents were something which were causing me some concern which did come to the fore on day 2 :-(

By 8-30 the rest of our squad had joined us and soon we were heading for the obligatory photos as we ‘dipped our wheels’.

Dipping &setting off from Whitehaven

Dipping &setting off from Whitehaven

Dipping &setting off from Whitehaven

Dipping &setting off from Whitehaven

 

And off we set (8-50) through some of the backstreets of Whitehaven and we were soon on the steady climb up toward Cleator Moor on the old railway track. At the end we popped out onto one of the very quiet (except for cyclists) country roads and headed along towards   Lamplugh, before skirting Loweswater. All the time passing or being passed by the hospice girls and other groups of C2C’ers. The forecast had been for heavy rain showers but by the end of today we would count ourselves lucky.

c2c9

Our next landmark would be Lorton which is the start of Whinlatter Pass - the main climb on day one. I started off well climbing in my lowest possible gear (which isn’t low enough). The first part of the climb is the worst and I’d managed most of it until disaster struck :-( I suddenly lost all drive and on further inspection the weld of the lowest gear had given way so I was suddenly down to 6 harder gears. But I wasn’t going to let it stop me and it soon became known as the wind chime as it pinged off the spokes on every rotation.

Top of Whinlatter

Cresting Whinlatter it was then down a very fast road descent down into Braithwaite

Bassenthwaite Lake

Bassenthwaite Lake

then Portinscale until we stopped for lunch at the Lakeland Peddlar in Keswick.

Then the rain really started but at least we were warm and dry inside. Lunch consumed we were soon on our way up the track towards  Threlkeld which was in a right state muddy but with large exposed stone, not ideal for a Chopper. Thru Threlkeld and Jed and I didn’t do the detour to Mungrisdale but he boys did. We headed on to arrive in Greystoke which is a quaint little village with an unusual cafe: http://www.greystokecyclecafe.co.uk/workshops.htm so in we popped for ‘Aga latte’ – very nice.

Greystoke

Greystoke

Another group of cyclists came in and they were looking for shortcuts !!! Then it was the final push to Penrith where we came to our stay for the night and what a very pleasant surprise http://wayfarershostel.com/ - it’s only been open for 4 months and everything is right :-) Met by Simon who let is hose our bikes down (which was needed) then showed us to the basement which was the bike store and drying room with fully fitted bike workshops – great!!!

Wayfarers Hostel, Penrith

Upstairs I agreed to share a room with the 2 late starters who wouldn’t arrive until we’d gone out for food at the recommended Agricultural Hotel – very good food and a few alcoholic beverages before we then went off to a couple of more watering holes and then retiring for the night.

A successful / pleasant day all round :-)

The route/stats for day 1 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/333103527

 

Day 2 – Penrith to Rookhope – very hilly, torrential rain, wind, thunder, lightening and hailstones lying

 

Day 2 the forecast wasn’t good (heavy rain).

I apologise in advance for not writing about all our cyclists – most of them were always away up the road from me so could type ‘could see on horizon’.

Today we would be joined by Ian Poppleton and his prodige Richard Nutt, who would be the first to tell you on day one he had struggled and had serious concerns he wouldn’t be able to complete the very hilly and daunting day two.

Up for an 8am hearty continental breakfast (everything was 5 stars about this hostel). and by 9 we would be hitting the road and it was dry :-)

Top of Penrith climb

It was straight into the first of many climbs this day which basically climbed out of Penrith and again along country lanes before descending fast (apologies to the chicken Carl mowed down, but didn’t kill) down towards Langwathby. As a veteran of many C2C’s I knew from there it was a 10 mile climb up Hartside (via Little Salkeld and Renwick) to the cafe at the summit which unfortunately was covered in thick fog. I started having technical issues half way up the climb, the cotter pin holding the left crank on had started to come loose (I’d had some issues on day 1 but thought tightening it at the hostel would resolve it). Turns out it was stripped :-( the good news was I had a couple of spare, the bad news, I didn’t have a hammer and anything to drift it out – call in the cavalry. I phoned my father in law, Alan who agreed to rendezvous at the Hartside cafe with his toolbox which he duly did. The cafe was packed with hundreds of very wet and steaming cyclists (not pleasant but buzzing) – it was now coming down in buckets. The rest of my squad sat in the warmth and enjoyed their coffee and cake whilst I managed to replace the dodgy cotter pin and was able to set Alan on his way home – thanks.

Hartside - nice weather

Hartside – nice weather

Hartside - nice weather

Hartside – nice weather

Looking bleak

Looking bleak

Hartside cafe

I was now very concerned as I knew we had a steep drop-off off of Hartside towards Garrigill and at the bottom was a T junction. My brakes are rubbish in the dry but even worse when the roads resemble rivers (which they did) and the rims get wet. This was going to be a bottle test. I had the brakes pulled full on and …. the Chopper was still accelerating. Drastic action was called for – I cocked one leg over the cross bar and headed towards the grass verge hoping it wasn’t a hidden ditch. Thankfully it wasn’t and it slowed me enough to leap off the bike, but hold it and continue to walk down the rest of the hill – how disheartening??

I tell everyone that the hardest climb of the whole route is the climb out or Garrigill (and I’ve yet to be proved wrong) All my party and many other cyclists were sheltering under the large trees in the village square. I’d now reached the stage where I’d get  a very large cheer when I’d arrive and the girls from the Hospice would should “Chopper Man” – great encouragement- thanks. I didn’t hang around and soon found myself on the dreaded climb. This is where I was wishing I was on a nimble bike with 27 gears instead of a heavyweight relic with 6. Fair to say, I pushed up quite a bit of that hill  but I was joined by others like Ian Hall from our group (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was keeping me company)!! The girls were again doing marvelously and I got plenty of encouragement from them and their support vehicles and the support vehicles from other riders – thanks again.

32
Hills

Garrigill

The drop into Nenthead is terrifying when you have brakes on a dry road. You may have guessed already but it was like a river and  effectively I had no brakes so it was back to the track of the previous descent bail then hold the bike as I plodge down the hill. I swear I was getting trench foot – wish I’d worn my wellies :-( John reliably informs me he hit 40mph on his descent!!

Nenthead is ‘unusual’ being an ex lead mining village which is now the home to dropouts and hippies. I know because John Bell and I once played football a mile underground here where the hippies had left a football and a Christmas tree down the mine (it’s technically trespass) – that story s for another day.

31

Luckily (for me) Ian Hall picked up a rear puncture (our only such occurrence on the whole ride) which gave me time to pop into the Miners Arms for coffee to takeaway (don’t bother asking for a latte in these parts). This was an organised stop for the girls who were all sitting in the conservatory having their refreshments. It finally stopped raining yippeee :-)

I set away first (giving me a chance) because I knew it was a(nother) climb out of the village and up to the highest point on the whole route where we stopped for more photo opportunities. it was then downhill for about a mile accompanied by many of the girls before we came to the right hander which started another hill (the last of the day for the girls as they were all staying in Allenheads) and our 2nd last as we were going another 7 miles to Rookhope.

34

C2C Highest point above Nenthead

C2C Highest point above Nenthead

By the time we reached Allenheads it was raining heavy (again) so we took shelter where John and myself knew there was a steep climb (Valley of the East Allen) out to the top of the Rookhope Burn.

Nearly there

Nearly there

Gin Hill Mine Shaft Allenheads

Gin Hill Mine Shaft Allenheads

Gin Hill Mine Shaft Allenheads

Gin Hill Mine Shaft Allenheads

Sheltering at Allenhaeds

In a break from the weather we set off. Then it REALLY rained, torrential/deluge – it hurt your head penetrating the air vents in your helmet, this wasn’t pleasant. John Bell kept me company going up (feeding me Haribos) we both agreed it was ‘character building’ and ‘out of our comfort zone’. Soon we were at the Cairn at the top of the hill and we both knew it was downhill all the way to Rookhope from here and it had eventually stopped raining. Further down the valley. Rookhope Burn flows into the River Wear.

Once at Rookhope we located http://barrington-bunkhouse-rookhope.com/main/ which isn’t difficult as it’s attached to the Rookhope Inn, the only pub in the village and we were met by our (very friendly) host Valerie Livingstone who was to become one of us over next few hours. We locked the bikes securely in the bike shelter and headed inside. The bunkhouse itself reminded me of a church without the altar and we were saying our prayers that our clothes would dry as we put them on all the available radiators. as well as in the tumble drier and spin drier. Then we jumped in the shower a very pleasant relief from what we had endured during the day :-)

ALTHOUGH I CYCLE THOUSANDS OF MILES EVERY YEAR, I CAN’T REMEMBER CYCLING IN WEATHER AS BAD AS WE HAD TODAY – except for one day of my LeJog attempt in 2011  :-(

 

Carl and Ian H. were away to the pub whilst the rest of us chilled a bit more before getting ready and going next door for food and drink (I wasn’t on a limit this night as I knew we only had one hill to climb the following day). The pub was quiet (well it was Sunday night) apart from a few other cyclists who surprisingly didn’t even speak. We ordered our wholesome meal and were soon tucking in then washing it down with various alcoholic beverages – happy days.

Valerie had said her daughter Sinead was back from University and would bring her guitar into the pub to play and sing. And true to her word  she did and what a great talent she is.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=768333294528&set=vb.276700688&type=2&theater

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=768338948198&set=vb.276700688&type=2&theater

Jed also took his turn playing the guitar whilst Sinead searched lyrics.com for the words to singalong – what a great evening we all enjoyed. Eventually it was back to bed to turn in for the night.

Richard Nutt who had struggled on day one absolutely loved day two despite the weather and the hills and knew he was going to finish the trip – well done Richard.

Route and stats for the day http://connect.garmin.com/activity/333103477

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO CONTRIBUTE: www.justgiving.com/c2conachopper

 

Day 3 – Rookhope  to Tynemouth (finish) then cycle 14 miles home

After a good night’s rest (thanks to Valerie) this would be our final day, a day which I would be VERY familiar with as it’s one of my regular return training rides.

Unfortunately as Ian Poppleton and Richard Nutt were booked on a train from Sunderland that evening they would be on a time schedule which they couldn’t miss and they chose to finish in Sunderland rather than Tynemouth (which we would). Great breakfast, again including Valerie’s home made bread rolls – filled the spot. We bid farewell to Ian and Richard as they headed off on their way – it was a great pleasure to ride day 2 with you both – maybe another ride in the future beckons???

The rest of us mulled around getting attacked by midgies!! The choice today was steep technical (but shorter) climb off-road out of Rookhope or the longer road climb of Crawleyside bank. I’ve done both before and I think th Crawleyside climb is easier. Anyway we chose the off-road route which would soon be over with and that would be our final climb of the 3 days.

Barrington Bunkhouse, Rookhope

Barrington Bunkhouse, Rookhope

Barrington Bunkhouse, Rookhope

Barrington Bunkhouse, Rookhope

Off we set and it soon became apparent that Choppers don’t make ideal MTB’s so I’d be taking up the rear and pushing some of this. Jed was off in the distance followed by John then Carl, Ian and then me. I could see Ian was struggling with the technical nature and having to stop for breathers/gather his thoughts. About half way up Carl fell off (still clipped in) which gave me a chance to pass them, take a photo and hurl some abuse then ask if he was OK. They both ended up pushing the remainder of the climb (behind me).

Rookhope Incline onto Rookhope Moor

Chopper Man getting a backy

Chopper Man getting a backy

Chopper Tales to tell

Chopper Tales to tell

Lots of photos, tea, cake banter. Then we were off down the Waskerly Way – I was determined to be flat out as I raced down from the cafe, twice the bike became totally broadside whilst Ian was following me but I didn’t let that deter me and kept on it, overtaking loads of cyclists on the way. I was meeting Richard Manley-Reeve, one of my close colleagues who is new into biking and very keen to be out on it. We met up then off we shot – he later said he couldn’t believe the speed I was getting out the bike :-)

Waskerly Way

Waskerly Way

Waskerly Way

Waskerly Way

Terris Novalis by Tony Cragg

Terris Novalis by Tony Cragg

Over the Hownsgill Viaduct and popped out into Consett which passes through the park (worth a visit) and before then  joining the Derwent Walk which would take us down to the river Tyne. The girls stop was planned for Ebchester then they would go down to the Quayside Bar (Newcastle Quayside) for champers etc. We passed through Derwenthaugh Park with its lake then across the Scotswood Bridge to end up on the north of the river and along the Keelman’s Way before we dropped onto the welcome site of Newcastle Quayside where we would be stopping for lunch at http://www.thecyclehub.org/ Bacon butty and coffee – £3-75 – bargain :-)


A group of male cyclists who had seen us day 2 were also there and asked if they could finish with us which wasn’t a problem at all (except they must’ve set off after us). We made our way down to eventually come out at Tynemouth and down onto Little Haven Beach where we were met by Simon. Jed’s wife, Carl’s dad/daughter etc

Nigel 'Chopper Man' Bradley, Finisher, Tynemouth

Nigel ‘Chopper Man’ Bradley, Finisher, Tynemouth

We ‘dipped’ as is tradition and also had our obligatory photos taken (I’m not shy about getting mine taken)

Tynemouth finish

Tynemouth finish

Tynemouth finish

Tynemouth finish

Team Finish at Tynemouth

Tynemouth finish

Well done to our squad and also to Ian Poppleton and Richard Nutt who had made it to Sunderland before they took the train home. It was a great feeling to finish but also a little sad that this particular adventure was over.

I said this was my 2nd best cycling trip ever, only beaten by my Lands End to John O’Groats of 2011.

I hung around to witness all the girls finishing together – they should be very proud of themselves and deserve to raise loads of money for the Hospice.

The route and stats for the day http://connect.garmin.com/activity/333103384

I then had 14 miles to cycle which I found tough’ish as I’d past the finish line and also knowing our excellent adventure was over.

Well done daddy

Well done daddy

I’d like to thank the drivers who got us to the start and picked some of us from the finish, The hostels we stayed in, The Hospice girls and other groups along the way with their encouragement and all the sponsorship I’ve received – it’s still not too late http://www.justgiving.com/c2conachopper – DONE!!

SO WHAT WILL BE NEXT YEARS ADVENTURE??