Over 450 riders complete Open Cycling’s Coast 2 Coast in a day epic 150 mile sportive
Written by Fi Wilson Photos: Stuart Holmes
On Saturday 29th June, 472 riders set off from Seascale on the far Western edge of the Lake District for the epic 150 Coast 2 Coast in a day sportive, organised by Open Cycling. The event finished at Whitby, with the fastest riders coming in under 9 hours. One rider described it as “beautiful and brutal in equal measure”.
Starting on the wind-blown Seascale beach, riders were wrapped up against a chilly morning as they set off between 5 and 8 am. But soon the clusters of riders had warmed up as they crossed the mountainous Western Lake District, taking in Wrynose and Hardknott passes before dropping down to cross Windermere by ferry. By now, most had stripped off their windproofs and donned sunglasses, and the streams of riders were a fantastic sight for the tourists and dog walkers as they poured through the outskirts of the village in their brightly coloured jerseys, advertising local bike shops, charities or their favourite pro team.
At the first feed station in Kendal, the sun was out and the groups of friends, both elite riders and novices alike, were enjoying the delicious food laid on by Open Cycling. “These snacks are great – there’s allsorts here, from porkpies to carrot cake”, gasped one rider raising money for a Leukaemia charity, “but I can’t stay here and eat all day. We’re only 40 miles in!”
After the first long and hilly leg, feed stations came thick and fast, all within 25-35 miles. This broke the long distance up for the riders and gave them something to focus on. In many cases, riders were met by family and friends, who had skirted around the clearly marked route and made their way via some less undulating A-roads to the stops to cheer on their loved ones. “It keeps you going”, admitted a member of the Back to Back Coast to Coasters, whose supporters were out in force, (and had been the previous day too, as this group were doing the cross twice in two days to raise money for Help for Heroes).
As the heat of the sunny June day was beginning to cool, most of the riders were making their way over the beautiful Yorkshire Moors towards Whitby. Those who thought they’d left the hills behind them in the Lakes were surprised by some ‘cheeky’ climbs late on. “Your legs are so tired, but you have to keep pushing on because you can almost smell the fish and chips in Whitby!” explained Barbara Lonsdale, the fastest female rider on the day.
A fantastic crowd of supporters and locals had congregated on the green at the top of the beautiful Victorian seaside town of Whitby, near the famous whale bones and monument to Captain Cook. Every rider streaming past the clapping crowds was greeted by Open Cycling director, James Thurlow, who hung a well-earned medal around their necks and congratulated them for their epic achievement.
By sunset, only 25 riders remained on the course, including Tracey Tickner, who had been roped into tackling the challenge by her partner, who then had to pull out. Not one to be defeated, Tracey battled onwards, on her hefty hybrid town bike, completing the distance in just short of 19 hours. “An incredible achievement”, admitted volunteer marshal Tom Needham. “Totally inspirational”.
The Coast 2 Coast crossing is a classic challenge for any road cyclist, and by providing transfers from and back to Penrith, plus camping, well-stocked feed stations and easy to follow signage, the Open Cycling Coast 2 Coast is an easy way of taking on the challenge. All you have to do is pedal! Entries for 2014 open on 1st October (http://www.opencycling.com/index.php)