Coast to Coast bike ride 03/05/2002

I met Nick and Chris at kings cross just about 11am and had no problem getting on the 11.30pm for Newcastle. We arrived about 2.45pm in Newcastle and managed to fit in a couple of beers at the bar, before catching the train to Carlisle with Ann and Leon and Dave and Nick P. The train went on to Whitehaven, and we cycled on to st bees except for Nick who took a taxi, because his brother Jon was bringing up his bike by car.

We had a little drama when Dave's paniers slipped off, but otherwise no problems, and we met Lucy and Nick and went down the queen's head were we got a good meal. Pete arrived later and Jane and Mike.

The pub continued to serve after hours and we got in about midnight, earlier than Jon and Karen who arrived about 12.30pm. Up early for 8am breakfast, but after puncture fixing we didn't set off till 10 and then we cycled down to the coast.

All was going fine then it rained, and it rained and it rained. We got so wet and cold we were freezing and, the climbs got harder we quickly seperated and lost people. We finally, stopped at Keswick at the queen's head and managed to dry out and some people bought new kit, but our departure was delayed when we lost Nick Pope who had chained his bike to Chris's.

After checking with the police and hospital he turned up after the fa cup had finished. Nick D then treated us to an insane uphill bike push which took forever to make any progress on. Chris was really suffering now despite having spent most of the day with a towel down his cycling shorts, at this point me, leon ,chris and pete pushed on in a peloton to the finish really going for it along the a66 and then on to Hornby Hall after Penrith, to stay the night at a stately home.

We had a nice meal, with most of my companions sitting on cushions, and a number of people had to go to bed early, but needless to say I had to stay to do justice to the bottles of wine we had ordered.

Up early again and some very sore bottoms in evidence when we set off, but the weather lookd like it would be fine and warm. Fine, yes! warm it certainly wasn't. The day was notable for some huge climbs the first to the top of Hartside Summit 1903ft where we had a well earned cup of coffee at the bikers cafe.

Then after we boiled struggling up the hill we froze down the other side plummeting at super speed into the icy wind. Then we did this again and again and again. eventually I got so cold I was getting a bit slow and had to take a route out of the wind to the youth hostel over the last 4miles whilst the others braved the biting winds on the top. A warm shower at Edmundbyers youth hostel did a lot to revive me and the beer and jam rolly down the pub helped as well. The singalong at the piano of wwii tunes and the cramped and squeeky bunk bed didn't help much though.

We set off the next day after a slight delay, and after a few unexpected climbs it was full speed for Newcastle in peloton along a cycle path. I had to leave the peloton boys at Newcastle though as I needed to stay with Nick who would hopefully get me to Newcastle YHA.

I was having great trouble keeping warm and the constant chilly headwind wasn't helping matters. By the time we all got to the Salutation Arms in Tynemouth, everone was looking quite tired though obviously pleased to have completed an epic ride. A taxi was in order to take me, Lucy and Nick to the YHA in Newcastle.

We met Jane and Mike at the youth hostel after a short but well deserved nap, and headed towards the notorius Bigg Market. We took the metro and were surprised to find that not only was the volume control stuck on full in our carrage, but it was also stocked with a varied selection of Viz characters. We managed to find a very nice pizza resauraunt to eat in, and I found an additonal chalenge in the inferno pizza they supplied.

We left the restaurant about 9.30pm and sidestepped the evenings casualties to find a nice pub the Crown Pasada to enjoy a few real ales in before returning to the YHA.