c2c day 1

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the big day

16 July - The big day is here. Due an 11.00am departure from Cambridge Mail Centre, and the team are packed and ready to go. Space is tight, so the 3 spare bikes are unloaded, and we hope and pray that we don't have any major issues.

It's a long, long drive to Whitehaven and the joy of a restricted minibus that won't go above 60mph is overwhelming for the driver (Chris). Craig on the other hand has a Ferrari in disguise - well at least his van isn't limited so he has great fun leaving us behind periodically.

One planned stop for a McD's and everyone is refreshed. One unplanned stopped at Scotch Corner - a miscommunication between the vehicles !! but at least James gets introduced to a Gingerbread Latte !

Finally arrive in Whitehaven and locate our accommodation only to find that there's a national C2C event on Saturday and Sunday in aid of the RNLI - looks like the route's going to be busy.

Rooms allocated, a couple of beers had, and everyone is refreshed and ready for a hearty meal, and ready to share stories of other challenges and exploits, before settling for the night ready for an early start.

The start17 July - 8.30am and the team is itching to get going, even the reluctant ones ! We make our way to the start point after a safety briefing - big message for everyone "NOBODY CYCLES ALONE" - that's good, we'll be safe if we stick together.

Zoe at the start

We meet two colleagues from Leicestershire at the start, also doing the C2C for charity - we may see each other along the route !! And we're off after ceremonial photos taken.

We'll meet up at our first planned stop at Whinlatter Forest Visitors Centre - around 24 miles. Don't forget everyone - NOBODY CYCLES ALONE.

We drive through some seriously wet weather to get to Whinlatter Forest, and some scarily steep and windy roads. It's tough enough in a van - God knows how these guys are doing it on two wheels.

The forest is beautiful, even in the grotty weather, and we set ourselves up with cookers ablaze to make coffee and tea for the team, and patiently await their arrival.

Feeding station - Whinlatter ForestThey start showing up - the professionals first, closely followed by the keen ones, not so closely followed by the guys who haven't done much training for the weekend, and then everyone's there enjoying a cup of tea and a Jaffa cake. Great !! Everyone's through the first part !!

1, 2, 3, 4 ....12, 13 Errr ! Where's the Baron ? Where's Richard ? Who was cycling with Richard ? NO !!!! Twenty four miles in, and we've lost one of the team already - that's pretty bloody careless.

Frantic phone calls made, well attempted ..... no service available. No Richard !!

Right, everyone off you go, and we'll track the Baron down. Don't forget ... NOBODY CYCLES ALONE (head striking brick wall !) and off they go again. See you later in the village of Greystoke - lunch on the village green.

The search for The Baron commences - the terrain continues to make it difficult to contact Richard by phone so we set off to intercept him along the way - he can't have gone that far !

And then suddenly without warning a voicemail comes through - it's the Baron, he's on his way to Keswick and will meet up with us. The message was left 20 minutes ago, so quickly call him back to see where he is now - no answer !! Leave a message.

Carry on looking for him, and then again a voicemail message.- I've been found, had a little accident but okay, and am with James and Steve, so all safe. In the background you can hear James and Steve laughing loudly about the accident, and we later learn that the three came across each other at a gate. None of them recognised each other as the hold the gate open for each other, and then suddenly Steve registers "that's The Baron" and stops, causing James to cycle right into him and they all end up in a pile on the ground !! No harm done, so off they go !

Great - the team is back to full strength ! No more lost boys hopefully !

Greystoke feeding stationSupport team makes its way to Greystoke to set up lunch station. We're told to meet up on the village green, but all we can find is the village war memorial with the tiniest lawn around it - about the size of a postage stamp, but very pretty, and right on the cross roads so they won't miss us.

Food is on the go, sausages, bacon and we want to put on some lovely chicken noodle soup, but the can opener we bought the day before is rubbish - so rubbish in fact that it breaks in two after just one can !! So into the pub we go to "borrow" a can opener - costs us 9.00 for three pints of shandy in exchange but at least soup's back on the menu.

We get challenged by a local restaurant owner who thinks we're stealing her business setting up on the green, but we politely explain what we're doing, and we end up friends again !!

Wendy & ZoeThe team start arriving at the feeding station in numbers, and hey !! we've met up with our two colleagues from Leicestershire along the way. Can't keep calling them the colleagues from Leicestershire so introductions all round, and we're delighted to meet Wendy and Zoe, and they join us for well earned bacon and sausage butties, and creamy chicken soup - yummy !!

Rest time at GreystokeThe chance to rest up for a while and re-acquaint ourselves with the "lost" Baron, and hear about his exploits with Steve and James. The team are in good shape and excellent spirits, and they need to be. They're going to need all their oomph for the next bit which takes us to Hartside Summit, and the chance to have a cup of tea at 1903 ft !! This is going to be tough, but there's a good night's rest coming after the next bit - nearly done for today.

They're off againAnd off they go again, not quite as energetic as earlier, but still with plenty of enthusiasm and loads of expectations for the well earned rest that comes at the end of today. Zoe and Wendy are now honorary team members, and set off with the boys, ready to show them how to do this bit. 

The support team make their way to Hartside Summit to enjoy the pleasures of a cafe made tea or coffee, but the weather takes an absolutely awful turn for the worse. The roads are treacherous, deathly slippery and obviously start taking a scary route along the incline of the mountain. The vans struggle with some of the roads - what on earth must the team be feeling if we're finding it tough going.

the viewWe get to the top, although almost miss the turning into the car park because visibility is so poor you can't actually see across the other side of the road. It's raining .... no that's not accurate ..... it's bucketing down !! The streams are running down the mountain roads, and the skies are darker and darker by the minute. Oh my God ! This can't be safe, and it sure as hell isn't sensible. The weather breaks just long enough to take a couple of photos of the spectacular scenery, and it is a wonderful view, but at what cost ? And then amazingly they start arriving again - like machines, they just keep going on and on, but there is pain - lots of pain !

the pain - oh God the painFrustratingly, the cafe closes at 5.00pm, and we're suddenly needing to get kettles on the go to give the team something hot to drink after this mammoth stage of the day. Being highly flexible and finely tuned coffee machines, the support team deliver as usual, and warmth is restored, and some pains are alleviated. Sadly, Wendy is done !! there's a shortish ride up and down into Alston where we're all staying the night, but she just can't do it ! The incline has done the damage, and we rescue her and recover her to their base camp to get a good night's rest hopefully reviving her for the morning.

For the rest, they want photos taken in front of the Hartside Summit sign as proof of their craziness !! and here they are:

Hartside Summit

And they finish off Day 1 with a sprint to the YHA in Alston, ready for a beer and a curry.

Quick review of day 1 - all gone well, only one lost team member (won't lose anyone tomorrow !), came to the rescue of Wendy. All in all, a good day - well done team.

Check out the Day 2 adventures by clicking here