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.

Waskerley Way

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.

Puncture Repairs

Puncture Repairs

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 tyre into the sea

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

Riding Lights Theatre Company
The Funzi and Bodo Trust

So now a line full of cycling gear is drying in the sun and a very dusty bike needs some TLC.

Stopping Places

Signs for National Cycle Routes

Say “140 miles in a saddle” and your calves start to ache and your bum feels sore before you turn a pedal. So what is the secret of cycling long distances without a serious dose of weary anticipation?

It’s all to do with stopping points.

I’ve booked three places to stay overnight on my charity ride from Coast to Coast. The first is in Whitehaven. I arrive on June 22nd to make an early start the next morning on my C2C ride. The second stop is 53 miles away at Penrith. I’m staying at lodgings that specialise in looking after C2C cyclists. Fellfoot Independent Hostel has secure cycle storage and it’s really cheap. Then it’s over the Pennines for 40 miles, the stiffest part of the ride, to Rookhope, where I’ve booked into the Rookhope Inn for what will be a well deserved sleep (after suitable refreshment.) That leaves another 40 miles to complete the ride. After an initial climb it is – as they say – all downhill from there to Sunderland and the sea.

In between those planned stops there will be times for coffee, tea, cake, lunch, photography and map reading. I see no point in being in some of the loveliest countryside on earth if I don’t stop now and again to appreciate it. So the trip will be split into manageable sections which follow one after another until I reach my destination and collect all your sponsorship money.

Talking of which I am raising funds for two charities. Riding Lights Theatre Company and the Funzi and Bodo Trust. The first to support a professional company that delivers original productions in schools, prisons, theatres, churches across the country and also offers great experience to aspiring actors in its two youth theatres and Roughshod company. All with a Christian purpose. The second trust is providing two communities in Kenya with a much needed Medical Centre and a School.

To donate follow one or both of these links.

Riding Lights Theatre Company

Funzi and Bodo Trust