Your Trips

Ride of a lifetime!

June 10th, 2012 by Peter Whitlock

I plan to do the C2C Whitehaven to Tynemouth in 3 days, hoping to take in all the off-road options as per this website and the official Sustrans map, as I’ll be riding it on a mountain bike with hybrid tyres.
Obviously this part has been written before the ride and will also write a post-ride bit! This website has been THE one-stop shop for everything C2C and has helped me not just plan my ride but give me an insight of (roughly) what to expect en-route.
My first overnight will be in Penrith and Rookhope on the second. Training wise I’ve been spending it on the South Downs which is the closest we have to mountains here! The most I’ve done to date (mid April) is 42 miles 50/50 on-off road. I’m hoping to do a 50 miler off-road and then 2 x consecutive 40 milers to get my butt used to consecuative days riding. I’ve ridden the BHF London – Brighton off road which is 75 miles, but even that is only around 2,200ft of climb. Looking at the route I’ll be climbing a lot more than that each day. As a lot of cyclists will put testament to – its not the mileage, it’s the hills that get you!
I do cycle to work each day but its only 4 miles there so lots of preparation is required! I’m hoping to train hard and ride easy as I want to enjoy my time spent in the saddle. Lets just hope the weather holds, that’s one thing I don’t have control over….
Well the bad weather curtailed my wishful thinking into training. I did one 58 milers and no consecutive days!
As I’ll be riding solo lets hope I get to share a few miles with other C2Cers’ to break the silence!
Day 1 – Whitehaven to Penrith
I stayed at the most recommended Glenard Guest House. This was the only guest house along the way that did an early breakfast (from 6am) ideal for those wanting to get a wiggle. They understood all about the C2C and other routes and the bike was very safe and secure there.
Leaving the start line at 7:45am I wended my way out of Whitehaven. Even after a few miles I got the impression they’d spent a lot of money on this route, signposting, off road surfaces. This was something that was obvious throughout the whole ride.
Whinlatter was the first big challenge at around 20 miles in. To be honest I found it one of the hardest climbs of the whole 3 days. It’s a slow grind up rewarded with an excellent visitors centre and a fast off road descent.
It tried to rain a bit just short of Keswick but not enough to dampen the spirit or the clothing! I made my day exponentially harder by tackling the Old Coach Road. Impossible to ride up from West to East and unrewarding once up there! It took about 2 hours to cover 5 miles. I don’t think even fresh legs could climb it in one go.
After 58 miles I rolled into Penrith for my first overnight stay.
Day 2 – Penrith to Rookhope
The sun was shining for the not insignificant climb out of Penrith and along Beacon Edge. I took a quick pause to take in the view back over Penrith and the lakes. The ride down to Langwathby was memorable for its beautiful scenery.
I did a bit of the off road route up to Hartside but roaded it most of the way. Hartside was billed as ‘the big climb’ that I had in my mind as some gargantuan hill only rideable by the likes of Lance Armstrong. I found it a very enjoyable slow climb up, stick in a low gear and enjoy! Whinlatter was tougher. Halfway up I was engaged in conversation by a spritely young chap of 78 who was still an active member of his cycling club and had caught me up from the bottom of the hill!
I took tea and cake at the top of Hartside and then had the enjoyable run down. Just touched 40 mph on my mountain bike which is fast for me. I found the undulating section to Garrigill quite grueling as its hard to get into a rhythm on that rollercoaster of a road.
You then have several big climbs out of Garrigill, Nenthead and Allenheads. All slow grind affairs but nothing that got me out of the saddle. This day definitely contained the best scenery. The run down from Allenheads to Rookhope was possibly the best section of the 3 days.
A fantastic day’s riding with the best weather, scenery and riding.
I stayed in Rookhope, very quaint but it’s a one horse town without the horse! No mobile reception, TVs in the room (I don’t think a non-satellite signal works there). Luckily the pub had a collection of paperbacks I could retire to my room with.

Day 3 – Rookhope to Tynemouth
Rode out on the off road Rookhope incline. This was rideable from bottom to top even in the wet. I found that if you’re hoping to take in all the off road options then you’re better riding East to West as the off-road sections are heavily biased to climbs up from the West.
It rained fairly lightly all day and after Waskerley Way the scenery was very dull after days 1 and 2. Its really traffic free and Sustrans have done an excellent job  routing this.
The tarmac sections through Tyneside seemed to go on forever, each mile dragged on for an eternity. It was a bit of an anti-climax when I got to Tynemouth due to the weather and riding environment. My advice would be sod the prevailing winds, ride it East to West.
All in all it was a very enjoyable, leisurely pace at 3 days. A lot of people say you can ride it without a map, very true its so well signed. Had to keep my wits about me in Tyneside as various routes cross each others paths there. Hoping to be back next year for the Reivers Route.

Peter Whitlock