We were drawn back to Madeira this spring with a relaxing break at The Miramar Resort in Funchal. Joan swam, Barrie ran, we walked for miles and read entire books (not unusual for Joan but an achievement for Barrie). Last year we promised ourselves early and late holidays but as the year closes we have only taken this one. Our excuse was the arrival of a new baby, but in reality we should have taken a second break. When we stay in York we tend to fill up our diaries with busyness.
Next year we have booked a river cruise in France with our old friends Colin, Rhona, Richard and Jenny. We travel Eurostar to Paris and sail the Seine up to Honfleur on the channel coast and back to Paris. We are assured there will be excursions along the way to explore France by bike and walking away from the river. We have never fancied a traditional ocean cruise but this one with its excursions seems like a manageable option.
Despite not going away we have taken a day off most weeks and escaped to some of our favourite places in North Yorkshire. Fountains Abbey and Studley Park remain our favourite place, but there’s no shortage of places to walk and cycle in this beautiful county. Dales, Moors, coast, National Trust sites and Harlow Carr Gardens – we are spoiled for choice. We have been able to share some of these places with friends and relatives who’ve visited us during the year.
We enjoyed a long weekend in The Lakes for Joan’s birthday and a visit to Wootton Bassett to stay with Derek and Ann (Joan’s sister) too.
Alvor in The Algarve on mainland Portugal was our main holiday destination this year. A quaint fishing village with lots of places to eat and extensive boardwalks through a nature reserve right on the coastline.
The sun shone. Temperatures rose. We lazed or walked away the ten days we were there, plus a nostalgic trip by speedboat to Lagos where we spent a family holiday sometime in the 1990’s.
It was a good holiday. Late April/early May is a good time to visit the Algarve but a little too early in year for it to be our main holiday. Note to selves – book two holidays in the year – one early and the other late in future.
Amazing, fantastic, exhilarating, enjoyable, strenuous. Just some of the words I’ve used as people have asked me how the C2C ride went.
Many are surprised that I’m suffering no after effects from the ride, but to be honest it’s not really the marathon people think it is. I’ve talked to several people since Friday who have also completed the ride – just a few among the twenty thousand who complete it each year.
If you were one of the people who sponsored me I am really grateful for your support. You may like to consider giving regularly to either of the charities I was representing.
Riding Lights Theatre Company has a membership scheme for regular givers. It offers a number of benefits as well as the confidence that you are supporting a very special professional and Christian Theatre Company.
The Funzi and Bodo Trust is engaged in long term projects in those communities on the south eastern coast of Kenya. Regular support allows them to plan their educational and medical projects with confidence.
If you didn’t sponsor me it’s not too late. The Justgiving sites are still open for business. Click on the links and you can join in to help.
Where to next for me and my machine? I’d love to do John O’Groats to Lands End but that would carve a huge hole in my diary. Possibly Liverpool to Hull – I’d need to borrow a hybrid bike for that one because of the many off road sections. Be sure I’ll let you know when it’s being planned.
Thank you for following my adventure – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The memories will stay with me for a long time. One thing I discovered as I drove my bike upwards in the Pennines. Singing is a great way to control breathing on the inclines. So if you were somewhere near the summit of Hartside or Black Hill and thought the local chapel was having a choir practice it was possibly me belting out hymns and songs of praise in the strange rhythm my panting heart demanded. I can recommend it – not just on the hills. Singing is good for you – body, soul and spirit. Especially if you have someone to praise for your very existence.
In the guide I was using, today’s ride was “mainly downhill” and there is one of those gradient maps that seemed to confirm it. Choosing the road exit from Rookhope to Stanhope I turned left to face a gruelling climb. Crawleyside Bank. I confess I pushed the bike up the steepest section. Despite a 100% record of staying in the saddle up to this point my mind was not engaged for this challenge. The rest of the incline up to the start of what’s known as the Waskerey Way was fine as the views opened out onto the now familiar North Pennine Landscape.
The start of the Waskerley Way
It was a fascinating ride all the way to Consett and then it became a pursuit for the coast. The bits and pieces of off road cycle track created a rather unsatisfying ride for most of the way with just short glimpses of open country. The old tracks were often dusty and dirty with loose surfaces that made riding a chore. I longed for the open roads of the previous days.
As the Stadium of Light came into view I was aware of a soggy back tyre – a slow puncture. I inflated it determined to get to the finish before changing the tube. Just as the last of the air leaked out I dipped my front wheel in the North Sea near Roker Pier. I was home. The cycle computer read 143 miles.
Dipping in the North Sea
I still had to wind my way back to Chester-le Street for the train home. The computer read 158 miles as I sat on the platform there.
It had been a good ride, I felt sad that it was over and that the next few days would be saddle free. I enjoyed the freedom of the open road and the challenge of it all. Not once did I have to toil up hill in the pouring rain wondering why I was doing this, the weather was ideal.
So at the end I’m thankful to God for answering the prayer of the first day and to all my sponsors who grew in numbers as the ride went on.
If you want to donate or check on the latest totals here are the links
Long fast descents are consistently reached by a steep gradient. A very, very steep gradient in the case of this section of the Coast to Coast ride.
I’m not complaining. It’s been a really enjoyable day touching the two highest points on the ride. Both sections of road rise above 1900 feet.
Now I’m waiting for dinner at the Rookhope Inn and I feel I’ve earned it!
Last night I stayed at a hostel in Penrith run by a charming couple from Otley. Alasdair and Jackie. They were so kind to me. Their hostel was more like a family holiday cottage. I was the only guest last night – truly comfortable.
I met two other groups of C2Cers today. A pair of lads were thrashing along the whole way in a day. The other group of six men were on a four say pub crawl! Over twenty thousand people ride this route each year and the numbers are still rising.
Lunch was at Hartside Cafe. 1900 feet above sea level. It was a welcome sight after the long climb.
So the final stage is tomorrow. It starts pushing the bike to the top of a rough track too demanding for my road bike. After a mile I’m told it turns into a perfectly rideable moorland track and it’s downhill all the way from there to Sunderland.
Thank you to all the people who’ve made donations today. If you still want to sponsor me these are the links. Riding Lights Theatre Company The Funzi and Bodo Trust