All that I have read about the coast to coast ride says that there is a lot of climbing. It has a total ascent of well over 8,000 feet. On the first day alone, I will climb around 1,400 feet. Now the thing I enjoy least, apart from cycling into a headwind, is climbing. Now and then I ask myself why I am doing the ride. And then quickly remind myself, ‘for the bucket list challenge of course’.
The best training for climbing is hill reps. “What’s that?” you ask. Quite simply, it’s just aimlessly cycling up a hill, going back down it and then turning around to ride back up it again! I’m starting this off easy and having selected a hill near to where I live, which is quite hard in Essex, I have started out doing 5 hill reps at a time and will then increase the number each time. I also plan to drive out to somewhere more challenging like North Hill in Little Baddow which climbs up nearly 300 feet with a couple of short ramps up to 9% gradient.
But I need to put in a lot more work before then. The hill I am using has an average gradient of 4.4% and a maximum of 8.7%.
The first training ride saw each of my reps being progressively slower than the one before it. And what was really depressing was that I was 12 seconds faster nine years ago. Still, I was younger then and can only improve right? Right!
Very close to the top of my bucket list is to complete the Coast to Coast, or Sea to Sea, bike ride. The C2C runs for nearly 140 miles across the northern edge of the Lake District from the scenic coast of northwest England through the Northern Lakes and over the Pennines before reaching its conclusion on the shores of the North Sea.
The C2C was developed by Sustrans and is part of the National Cycle Network (NCN) in partnership with various local authorities, Groundwork West Cumbria, North Pennines Tourism Partnership, Forest Enterprise and the Lake District National Park amongst others. The route was opened in 1994 running from Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria to the north-east coast at Sunderland.
The route I have chosen to do starts at Whitehaven in the east and finishes at Tynemouth in the east. I am doing the ride with CycleActive who have lots of good reviews so I am hoping all goes well.
The ride is over three days and self-guided. That is to say, we have to make our own way from each day’s start to finish point. CycleActive have booked all the accommodation and take our stuff from B&B to B&B each day and then take us back to where we started so we can pick up our cars. My ternary goes like this:
- Day 1: Travel to Penrith
- Day 2: The Lake District (50 Miles)
- Day 3: The Pennines (45 miles)
- Day 4: Descent to Newcastle (42 miles)
The ride goes through Keswick, Penrith and Alston before climbing onto the moorland of the North Pennines, known as the Roof of England (gulp), and then gently down to the coast.
From what I have read about it, there is quite a bit of climbing involved so I’ll need to get some hill rep training in pretty quickly!
C2C Route Profile