The Gold Standard C2C ride planned for May fell foul of the early season inclement weather. So of the original 8 riders, only 4, Martin Price, Matthew Dodsworth, Jonny Croston and Michael Vennard, posed for the obligatory picture in front of the C2C sign in the dock at Whitehaven in the early morning sun on Saturday 8thJune 2013.
A group of three lads setting off before the Calder team weren’t well equipped – no maps, no GPS equipment; just road bikes, full rucksacks and a cheery “we’ll follow the signs, how hard can it be?” Hmm. May take a little longer than the planned 3 days.
The Calder group set off steadily, climbing out of Whitehaven towards the northern lake district hills. Through Cleator and then onto the more picturesque minor roads, following the course of the river Ehen and on to Loweswater.
First climb; Whinlatter pass. Some of the riders called in at the Visitor’s centre – not for the Osprey nest on live camera feeds, nor for the mountain biking or ‘Go Ape’ rope trails, but for reasons more, erm primeval. Well the Council have closed the facilities in Whitehaven, ok?
A furious descent down the other side and a session of through ‘n’ off up the A66, brought them to a quick pit stop just outside Troutbeck where Martin Watson was waiting to refill water-bottles.
No stopping for Pilates in Greystoke (ref C2C 2011), but on through Penrith to the next climb. Rising steadily from Little Salkeld, where Cumbria’s only working watermill turns, the climb seems endless. But at 1904ft the transport cafe at Hartside Heights represents halfway.
After brief stop, or as brief as it can be in a cafe full of cyclists and motor cyclists it was the long descent towards Garrigill, back up over the hill and a sharp descent into Nenthead. But there was no respite as the next climb is only round the corner; rising again to the ancient lead-mining village of Allenheads.
From here streams and rivers start to flow east instead of west, although that doesn’t mean the climbing ends! First, another long fast descent following the course of Rookhope burn down into the valley but what goes down must go up.
Crawleyside Bank is well named – most of the riders crawled up it, but there’s a nice cafe at the top – Parkhead Station House. Its ‘off-grid’ sanitary wise; they spent £11,000 putting in toilet facilities so you’d better buy something!
From here, at last, its mostly downhill to Sunderland. Once the Calder TTT got into its rhythm, the miles flashed by. Round the one-way system in Sunderland and Roker pier is the end; just over 9 hours of elapsed time.
Time for a photo and fish n chips before setting off home.
Thank you from the riders to Martin Watson, the designated driver, who filled water-bottles like a demon and was ready to lend a hand in an emergency. Thanks too, to Martin Price for organising.
Account by Michael Vennard
Photographs Matt Dodsworth, Martin Watson