Here's a very bedraggled but happy trio of Wardman's just arrived at their destination after 210 miles of riding split over 2 days and I don't know how many inches of rain....
It all started brightly enough. I met my brothers Jim and Phil off the train from York at Waverley Station around 10.30am. Bikes set up and obligatory photo taken with castle in background we set off out of town heading south on the A7. I'd be following the forecast obsessively on metcheck and knew the rain wouldn't be far off.
I was surprised however that it didn't arrive until we hit the bike path between Galashiels and Selkirk about 2pm. Waterproofs on we made steady progress up through Selkirk and on towards Galashiels, but things slowed up on the lumpy road to Hawick. About the same time the rain came on good and proper. Bugger. Add in a meaty side wind and descent down to Hawick and things quickly started to get chilly.
A quick stop at Hawick Cycle Centre and their sale rail yielded some absolute bargains: Altura waterproof bottoms for £25 and winter overshoes for just a tenner sorted Jim out. More kit and warming balm on all round and a quick hot chocolate at Morrisons raised spirits, though the realisation that it was 4pm and we were still not half way through the ride with some lumpy bits to come maybe didn't!
On the road to Bonchester Bridge I got a front flat. No worries I thought, I'll fix it and catch the lads up. Not wanting to get too cold I didn't mess around putting a new tube in, which was probably a mistake as only 10mins later.. bang, same front wheel puncture. Oh crap, i'd not even caught Phil and Jim up and i was having to stop again.
This time on a wide open stretch with the rain lashing down. With no phone reception to let the lads know the problem, it felt even more important I fix it quickly. Which was probably a mistake. Going again, but not having much confidence in front tyre staying up I descended into Bonchester Bridge and climbed out the other side as hard as I could. Imaging I was off the front of a Spring classic (!) I got my head down in an attempt to catch up. Then bang... same front wheel and only 1 more spare tube! Sod this, got to keep going I thought, which is what I did with a flat front for about the next 6miles until I finally caught the guys up just after Hyndlee. Jiggered, I muttered something about flats then stopped to fix it again.
On closer inspection I spotted a cut in the tyre. Doh! Powergel wrapper in as temporary tyre boot I was off again on the chase up the last part of the climb then down the fantastic (and tail wind assisted) desent towards the Kielder turn off. It took me until nearly Kielder village to catch the lads up again and with more chocolate consumed we pedalled on towards Bellingham.
We finally arrived here about 8.30pm, all feeling a little pissed off with the rain which hadn't let up at all and hungry too. Lights on we got going again and around an hour later were at our destination, the Station Inn at Hexham.
Unfortunately the heating wasn't working in our room, the windows were open and only a cold dribble was coming out of the shower! Wet kit off we wrapped up in the duvets to warm up and just had to laugh at the situation! Things improved as Jim sussed out the shower, a small heater was found to try dry kit out a little and pizza was chowed!
We got up to a truely miserable day on Saturday, rain and gloom abound outside and wet kit to put on inside! Breakfast woolfed down we got going at about 10.30am after a quick trip to the bikeshop for a new front tyre.
We decided to take the A68 south towards Darlington to save a few miles, but figured it'd be pretty hilly. And so it was! On this part of the ride I was so impressed with Jim for his determination to get up several big and steep hills on roadie bike gearing, especially given he'd already ridden 110miles the day before and prior to that only about 25miles all year!
After the climbing came some epic descending in the rain, where I became strangely fixated with the thought of my hands slipping forward off the hoods and over the front of the bars! A horrible feeling indeed.
Around 2pm and 40miles in, the rain stopped (!) and the sun even made an appearance. Things got even better as we turned off the A68 and headed south and downhill towards Scotch Corner with a beautiful tailwind. A couple of freewheel competitions later we were under the A1 and at a little village called Barton for a quick food stop.
At this point Jims knee started to give him some bother, so we decided to detour slightly across to Northallerton to get some pain killers and cold spray. By the time we got there his knee was giving him serious gipp. The possiblity of getting the train to York was mooted but we instead decided to stick together and see how things went towards Boroughbridge. Gentle downhill gradients and a tailwind helped here and we made good progress.
By Boroughbridge the rain had started again but we didn't really care - we knew we could make it with only ~15 miles to go. We continued on down the eerily quiet old A1 road until our turn off just north of Wetherby. Lights on for the final few miles, a strange sense of euphoria came over us. At 8.30pm we pulled into Tockwith and my folks house, ride completed. 100 miles on the dot, 210 in total over 2 days, 20.5 hrs on the bike including stops.
Looking back a few days later, I feel very proud of my brothers especially. I do a fair few miles on the road, so maybe the distance wasn't too hard for me, but for Jim especially to have completed it and in the conditions we had with no back up and a dodgy knee on day 2 was an awesome achievement. Riding for a charity definately fires you on and makes you more determined not to give up, for sure. Nice one Jim and Phil.
On Sunday my folks put on a cracking charity barbie. It was great to see many faces from my childhood, though being rubbish at remembering names is something I definately need to work on. With the money raised at the barbie and sponsorship from the ride we've in total raised ~£3300 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Well chuffed with this! A big thankyou to everyone who has supported and sponsored us.