Club members Colin, Zoe and Andrew tackled the Ride Across Britain riding 100+ miles for nine days. Here’s Colin’s account of an epic ride in which he raised an amazing £3,724 for Kent Association for the Blind.
Stage 1. Land’s End to Okehampton. 106 miles. 9482ft elevation.
Stage one was a hot and hard day into a headwind. The road was either going up or going down. Highlights of the day were St Micheals Mount near Penzance in the early morning mist, Truro, the climb up to Minions and getting up the two mile drag up Bridestowe hill in a strong headwind.
Stage 2. Okehampton to Bannerdown, Bath. 114 miles. 7966ft elevation.
Stage two was a slightly easier day, but not by much. Highlights of the day were the climb up Cotherstone hill in the Quantocks, the flat roads of the Somerset levels, the awesome Cheddar Gorge and finally the painful drag up Bannerdown hill to the finish. One of the Chaperones had already finished for the day with the racing snakes and decided to go for a run. 😱 He chased me up the hill and said “If I catch you I’m jumping in” The sound of his footsteps definitely got me pedalling faster. 😂
Stage 3. Bannerdown, Bath to Ludlow Racecourse. 95 miles. 5795 ft elevation.
Stage 3 was another hot day. Not as lumpy as the first two and the wind was at our backs. The highlights of the day were the Severn Bridge (but not for the right reasons 😅), Chepstow Castle, the beautiful Wye Valley and joining two other CBC members, Zoe and Andrew on the road for the afternoon. The beer stop wasn’t bad either. Eleanor Barker joined the event for the day too. She’d done a q&a session the night before at the briefing.
Stage 4. Ludlow Racecourse to Haydock Park Racecourse. 108 miles. 3416ft elevation.
Stage 4 was the flattest, hottest and fastest day. The day started in dense fog, but that soon burned away. There weren’t to many highlights due to the terrain, but we did finally get to see the River Severn. The beer on the balcony in the Haydock Park grandstand was well earned.
Stage 5. Haydock Park Racecourse to Carlisle. 119 miles. 6412ft elevation.
Stage 5 was the day I was looking forward to. I got to see my parents on the side of the road, ride for 25 miles with my sister between Lancaster & Kendal and got to see two school friends (Big Tom and little Rob) too. Rob rode up Shap Fell with me from Kendal where Tom was waiting. He’d ridden up on his e-bike before returning to Kendal. Rob stayed with me all the way to Carlisle. He did an immense amount of work on the front for me which was greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, when returning to Kendal, he bonked and had to call his wife Josie to come and pick him up in Penrith. 😂
Stage 6. Carlisle to Edinburgh. 105 miles. 4426ft elevation.
The weather turned on stage 6. We started and finished in the rain. We were constantly putting on or taking off the rain jackets. The highlights was crossing the border into Scotland. The excitement was soon gone as the roads were terrible. The amazing scenery made up for the pain in the backside.
Stage 7. Edinburgh to Strathdon. 113 miles. 7835ft elevation.
Wet! Torrential rain had battered the tents overnight and only eased after the first 30 or so miles. The view from the Forth road bridge was very marginally better than the Severn road bridge. This was all forgotten when we reached the Cairngorms and Glenshee. I had my only puncture of the ride near the Spittle of Glenshee before climbing up to the ski centre. There are definitely worse places to have a puncture. Stunning is the only way to describe it. A few days cycling in the Cairngorms is definitely recommended.
Stage 8. Strathdon to Bonnar Bridge. 110 miles. 7002ft elevation.
We woke up to more unsettled weather on stage 8. There were a couple of breaks in the clouds as we approached the top of the fantastic climb of the Lecht. As we descended the other side, the heavens opened. The rain was bouncing 2-3 inches off the road as we went down at almost 40 mile per hour. It was so much fun, although my eyeballs wouldn’t agree. 😂 The weather did improve, which allowed us to enjoy the ride past Culloden, through Inverness and on to Bonnar Bridge where the rain started again.
Stage 9. Bonnar Bridge to John O’Groats. 105 miles. 4997ft elevation.
It was absolutely freezing in the morning of stage 9. The barren, but glorious Highlands still had patches of snow from the previous winter. Stomach cramps and a severe loss of appetite was not going to stop me finishing the ride. I barely ate and drank less that 750ml of water all day. Having the end in sight spurred me on through the cold and swarms of midges at the Altnaharra pit stop. The torrential downpour after the stop wouldn’t stop me either. Once we hit the north coast of Scotland, the rain stopped and the sun came out. The feeling of knowing I was only a couple of miles from the end was fantastic.