Fitness update

So I’ve been running at least 2-3 times a week with or without Amanda as good training for Tough Mudder. I’ve also just been GIVEN a road bike to practice for the coast to coast challenge and also a turbo trainer to train indoors. After 45 minutes I was shattered but am sure it will at least do my fitness good.

Still no real weight changes at 13st 10th with all of the healthy eating and running/cycling but am sure it will come good eventually.

Monday 30th June – Day Three of Coast to Coast – Bike – Ingleby Cross to Robin Hoods Bay (39 miles)

After our beautiful full / MASSIVE English Breakfast Aidy and I set off from the beautiful Park House B&B to a cloudless blue sky and with our optimism high knowing we were heading to our final bike destination.


The route we were taking was less roads and included some monster hills, awesome off-road tracks and a 4 mile downhill all the way down to the coast – who wouldn’t be happy?

Still, a meaty 51 mile over challenging terrain we had to prepare ourselves mentally, including also not setting off until after 9:30am….oops.

Ok so we took a main road for about 5 miles reminding us of yesterday’s route with the angry 70mph lorries overtaking us. Couldn’t wait to get this road over and done with and then we eventually came off the road and started flying through beautiful villages, stopping off at one village for water.


We started climbing into The North Yorkshire Moors and started hitting some of the hardest hills yet.

20140630_125119(0)20140630_124947At the top of a monumental hill we came to a crossroad where we could see THE EAST COAST AND SEA!!!

We took a break here in the hot sun and tried to work out where we were heading. After some time we realised our path was taking us via an awesome off-road track only passable by 4×4 vehicles and mountain bikes. This track was really fun and we eventually came to a high lookout point where we could see the full east coast, Middlesbrough and other coastal places and features.


At this point we realised that the rest of the journey was pretty much downhill which was a pretty cool thought. I attached my GoPro HD camera and recorded some high speed downhill off-road video.

At the bottom of the off-road track we came to a main road. This road was downhill and I mean downhill, and more downhill – it was bloody marvellous and I was thinking to myself how much incline over the past three days we had built up and now melting away beneath our wheels.

THEN, the coast came into view still all downhill and the view of the coast became bigger and bigger. This was really really cool, probably the highlight of the bike ride.

We came to about 2 miles outside Whitby which I’ve been to a few times with Angela and Sebastian on a family holiday so I was familiar with the surroundings. But we weren’t taking the road to Whitby but instead a road which took us to Robin Hoods Bay.

Now along this road and following my phone’s GPS to reel us in, we came upon an off-road path named the “Cindertrack” which apparently is an old Whitby to Scarborough coastal railway route. It hugged the coast and cliff tops, offering outstanding views, no motor vehicles, a quiet and amazing slightly downhill route all the way into Robin Hoods Bay.

Robin Hoods Bay came into view, OK it was probably this part which was the most awesome bit of our three day bike ride. The huge Coastal Head which dominates the area reminded me of when I was last there – with Angela and a very young baby Sebastian.

We arrived in Robin Hoods Bay village and Aidy’s mum was waiting for us. She seems a lovely lady and gave Aidy some well done hugs etc. We then made our way down the steep path that takes you deep into the village and towards the end of our route.

WE ARRIVED!!! We were outside The Bay Hotel and we were feeling jubilant…. well I was anyway, let’s not forget Aidy has already done Everest Base Camp so this probably wasn’t as massive for him as it was for me.


We got a real ale, signed the completion book which all of those doing the C2C must do as tradition, and talked about our journey. At this point I realised the bike made it without any problems. Didn’t need the puncture repair kit or the new inner tubes I bought in case. Even the chain didn’t snap haha (reference to last C2C attempt). The bike was a tank considering it wasn’t the most expensive one you could buy, said by the man himself who lent me his bike, the Legend Gaz McDonald.


At this point we met some cyclists coming in on mountain bikes who must have done something similar to us. My competitive edge burned inside me to find out what they did, no way I’ve come so far too find out that some other guys have just done something more difficult than us. After Aidy started taking to them and me joining in mid-conversation we discovered they had done a 4 day route, skipping Whinlatter and even had a pace/supplies car to carry their belongings so that they could travel light! We congratulatively and politely said well done and gave our tale of events including that we’re about to take on the 5 day run/walk from tomorrow. They looked in shock, the guy I was talking to could probably kill me in one punch and could probably bench press me so I really didn’t want to upset the him lol.

After here we put the bikes in Aidy’s mum’s car and headed off to Whitby where we were stopping. We’re staying in a hotel above a pub which wasn’t too shabby and we unpacked, showered and headed out for tea which was of course Fish and Chips at Magpies with a few more celebratory real ales.

Summary: I really enjoyed the cycling part of this challenge. Some amazing views and fun memories. I’ve proven to myself it can be done over three days on a mountain bike. It could have been done in two days on a road bike but that would have been just roads and no off road fun. I wish we did more off road routes instead of the roads but that would have meant more days. Maybe another time. It was a good mix and a very tough test.
Now begins the running/walking part of the challenge which will require patience with the slow speeds we’re doing compared to being on bikes. Wish us luck!


Sunday 29th June – Day Two of Coast to Coast – Bike – Kirkby Stephen to Ingleby Cross (57 miles)

Today was about going the quickest way to Ingleby Cross, no frills and all roads. After yesterday’s mammoth route which had EVERYTHING from mountains to off road and distance we were quite content with just getting to our next destination. We were still pretty tired and could do with not taking to too hard and understanding that we still had to do the run back yet so why punish our bodies now? We saw a lot of beautify sights yesterday so as I said we were quite happy indeed to just get there via the fastest route possible.

Still, this turned out to be pretty scary and worrying at times as we hit the A66 for 30 miles of the route and we had the tiniest cycle lanes with lorries going past us about 70mph missing us by only a few feet. Now I look back perhaps this route wasn’t ideal – especially on mountain bikes where there simply was no momentum on the roads and not much going compared to a road bike.

We set off from Kirkby Stephen and came down The Muge Hill that Aidy and I struggled with right at the end that we pushed our bikes up. I hit 41mph, by far my fastest ever bike speed (36mph previous) and we were on our way to the A66……


This bit, as I’ve said already, was scary, worrying, boring – just cycling up a huge road, sometimes being beeped at by lorries etc knowing how close they were to us. At one point one of the lanes on the dual carriageway was closed for roadworks and Aidy decided to cycle in this closed off cones off lane – which made the lorries even more angrier with me on the other side in the cycle lane. Now we look back at it YES we were a bit silly but we felt safe enough and there was absolutely no other way to Ingleby Cross apart from tackling the huge hills over The Moors.

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We saw signs all the way down the A66 for Scotch Corner. What the heck was Scotch Corner we asked ALL THE WAY down the A66 until at last we came off the A66 at Scotch Corner which was simply where the A66 met the A1 and had a few service stations – we then hit country roads – this was a good feeling knowing we were only around 10 miles from our destination. We arrived in Ingleby Cross just before 6pm which was fantastic and we made our way up the huge hill to the beautiful Park House B&B which sat high up in the woods looking down with a fantastic view.

When we arrived straight away we were greeted and treated like kings. Our bikes were taken away for us and we were made to feel relaxed by Beverley. Shortly afterwards Mike took our bikes to the garage and then showed us to the workshop where he has a dozen amazing bikes on display, each one costing more than both of ours put together. Mike found it amusing that we were attempting the C2C just using mountain bikes.

An hour later tea was served which was of course a Sunday Roast with Yorkshire puddings almost the side of your head with beautiful meats etc. We were also joined by four C2C walkers, two of which were Australian (perfect for Aidy) and another guy from FARNWORTH??? Small world. We then retired in the lounge area with a few beers and called it a night around 10pm.

Summary: Beautiful B&B and the last fifth of the route was most enjoyable – the rest rubbish lol but it wasn’t so tough and felt better than we did at 12am at the end of Day 1.



Saturday 28th June – Day One of Coast to Coast – Bike – St Bees to Kirkby Stephen via Whitehaven, Keswick & Penrith (88 miles)

After being woken up on a cool morning by lots of loud crows (not seagulls) and after being up already a couple of times in the night I was a little tired. Soon after I heard Aidy’s car pull up alongside my tent so I knew it was time to get cracking! – we had a huge day ahead (unknowingly knowing How Huge of a day it would end up).

By the time we got the stove going, had a cup of tea (needed brrrrr) and my porridge we were on our bikes and ready to go at 8am (not 7am) – ney bother! We got a quick photo outside the C2C walk sign and headed off to Whitehaven, already meeting our first hill just outside the Caravan Park which required 1st gear – Many MANY more to come… 20140628_080414

We arrived in Whitehaven and saw that there were already quite a large number of cyclists (all with road bikes except us two) queuing up to get their picture taken next to the C2C Cycle sign


So, we headed off towards Keswick, with me becoming already confused telling Aidy that soon we’ll be cycling over rivers on wooden bridges etc (not knowing that this would be after Keswick). We started passing town after town, Cleator Moor, Frizington, all feeling good knowing the miles were flying by under our wheels – we were averaging around 10mph overall with 16mph average on a straight which wasn’t bad for a mountain bike. At this point I recognised some tunnels and buildings from the previous time (disaster) I tried cycling just Day 1 of the official C2C cycle from Whitehaven to Keswick with my mate Rick Tattersall around 10 years ago. I remember being so unfit, overweight, massively under-planning the requirements my body would need though such a challenge. I think I just took a 700ml bottle of water with me then and a 5kg pack. This time I had 1 Camelbak containing 1.5ltr of water mixed with a high grade carbohydrate supplement to fuel me constantly and would last 1.5 hours. I also had a 700ml bottle of water mixed with a high grade protein supplement to repair battered muscles. My bike must have had around 5kg of stuff strapped to it and I also had a 10kg pack on my back. So not only was I carrying miles more than the previous time the Whitehaven to Keswick would only be a third of what we were intending to do today! Such a contrast!!!

20 miles away from Whitehaven we started hitting the beautiful heart of the Lake District, passing the north-side of Lake Loweswater and past the tall mountains of Grasmore and Grisedale Pike. At this point we were both a bit low on fluids and needed the toilet and were lucky to find a village hall-type-place with fifty or so runners about to begin a fell run. I asked the organiser if we could cheekily take on some water and use the toilets which he kindly offered us – Aidy almost pinched a ham sandwich they had set out to welcome back the runners haha – he said they looked too good!

So after being refueled we headed off towards the dreaded Whinlatter Forest Park/Pass, thinking that my previous experience of this place would serve us well when we approached it. We passed Low Lorton and started to scale up towards Whinlatter Forest Park on very steep roads, probably around 20% incline. We made it to the top (then amazed to see a local bus pass us shortly afterwards going up the same hill) and we headed on the straight road through the forest towards Whinlatter Forest Park. Aidy would have been so pleased to pass this place and get it out of the way as I spoke about it non-stop using it to reassure myself and how we would tackle it etc.


We arrived into the park with me thinking that I would suddenly remember which path we needed to go. Now, the last time I was here with my friend Rick I remember thinking that we had taken the completely wrong path which took us up the highest point, the climb which was relentless and agreed with Aidy that we wouldn’t scale this since we had so much more to go afterwards. We realised there was an official start point to the Whinlatter Forest Park cycle which I must have completely missed the last time I was here – there was a blue route and a red route, blue which appeared to be a bit timid, red which appeared to be a little more challenging – so obviously we took the red route. The route quickly became apparent that this was intended for absolute experts who were 100% confident and skilled to tackle it. Me and Aidy did fair pretty good I have to admit, cycling down paths just a little wider than your bike wheel and then a steep 200ft drop. The views were incredible and we were pretty happy with our progress until we saw the next part of the route which snaked steeply up this huge hill – me and Aidy thought NAH and instead started to look at paths getting down towards Keswick and so we can go onwards. We found a path, a fantastic path which looked like it was hardly used in many years, jumping over branches etc – until we found the latter parts of it – a very very steep uneven rocky path which looked impossible to cycle down unless you were cycling for Red Bull. So we wimped out and carried our bikes down – or should I say held on the back brake and used the bike to control our decent down the hill. It wasn’t long until we were able to cycle the rest of the way down and arrived at Braithwaite about 5 miles outside Keswick. We had a quick rest here and headed for Keswick for a good break, absolutely shattered and unable to believe this was just a third of our journey.

Because I had taken on so much carbs and protein on throughout the day, I had no stomach for a good meal – unlike Aidy who had a monster burger.


After an hour’s stop, which was much longer than we originally intended – just because we were so tired and needing a rest, we headed off towards Penrith feeling slightly refreshed (slightly). Here we passed at last over the rivers on wooden bridges and the views were fantastic . The C2C signs kept us pointing towards Penrith since we were still on the C2C path and we arrived in Penrith around 6pm, much later than we originally wanted. Here Aidy was only spotted by someone he went to Uni with!! He’s such a legend everyone knows him haha!

We left Penrith and started to head south-east towards Kirkby Stephen, starting to realise that the day would soon/hopefully come to an end, being able to eat some good food, have some beers and get a good night sleep. We thought we should end up at our destination at around 10pm and we called the Fat Lamb B&B to say we would be a little late. At this point I was lying down on the grass taking a break in a village somewhere until I realised that I was lying down in something very offensive and very smell, all down my back! Sorry I had to share this with you but this will later explain why I haven’t been wearing my jacket – only wearing my tiny skin-tight compression top.

At around 8:30pm we knew we needed some food in us and we stopped in a remote village pub, the residents all looking at us like we were completely foreign. We told an elderly couple near us we were still heading for Kirkby Stephen and hoping to get there for 11pm and the guy said it will be around 12am! – nah mate it’ll be 11pm.

We had no idea how much harder this final stretch would be with the insulting hills and the outright exhaustion me and Aidy had. At 10pm we were near but still so far away. When you think 15 miles, it’s not far away, not if you have a car handy. By bike this is an hour’s good pace, good if you’re not averaging 6mph up hills. Darkness started to creep in, drizzle started and me without a jacket started to get very cold indeed. I had no lights on my bike – I lent the bike from my awesome friend Gareth McDonald and he never needed lights for his bike and I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t need them for this challenge.
How wrong I was, 11pm we were still 6 miles from our destination, again having to call the B&B explaining our delay. Thankfully someone was staying behind for us to wait for our arrival. At this point it was so dark, especially under the cover of trees I could barely even see the white lines on the middle of the road. At one point I glimpsed at my speedometer and I could just make out that I was going 30mph even though I couldn’t see the road or where we were going – just feeling the wind fly through me and trying to keep on the white lines on the road. Every car going past must have thought IDIOT, probably what I would have done at a guy cycling without lights. Being so close to our B&B it felt like it would never come. These final 10 miles felt by far the longest, hating the downhills knowing that it would result in an uphill eventually.

We arrived at Kirkby Stephen thinking this was our destination before we realised that Ravenstonedale (4 mile away) was our target – this was probably the lowest point of our journey. As we approached Ravenstonedale we hit a hill just leaving Kirkby Stephen which was relentless – Aidy wanted to get off and push and I was most glad to join him for a brief respite.

The final 3 miles still felt like a drag rather than a finish – there was no final sprint – there was nothing left in the tank for either of us. Some final HUGE hills to welcome us to our destination and trying to give positive advice to Aidy that we are so close – I think Aidy was probably just sick of hearing the sound of my voice. He said he was hallucinating at one point due to the darkness and his eyes trying to make objects out in the road.

WE ARRIVED – 12am precisely – Paul, the owner despite the late hour was still so hospitable allowing us to put our bikes safely in the back, taking us to our room asking if we wanted any hot drinks etc. We just wanted our beds and we had tea making facilities and wanted no longer to bother the owner and allow the poor guy to go to sleep himself. Aidy was out within 2 minutes and I still did my stretches like a good boy, plugged all of my gadgets in the wall to recharge, had a hot shower and then headed off to sleep just before 1am. What a day – what a horrible, wonderful, incredible day!

Day1_C2CClick here for Runtastic breakdown

Bike Ride with Aidy to Darwen

Aidy and I did a fairly simple 25 mile bike ride to test the bikes, see how the energy supplements fared and make any last minute adjustments before the challenge in a week’s time.

The climb up Rivington Road was pretty meaty at times, as well as the climb at the Stones Bank Brook forest towards A666. Apart from these hills it wasn’t too testing which I was glad of. We’ll be doing almost four of this route this time next week with Whinlatter Forest Park to play with.

The nutrition was great, I never felt tired, and we had some GoPro’s to play with. I lent a GoPro from one of Pete’s (my brother) friends – Ash – Legend. I collected it last night. I’ll be using the GoPro to capture loads of video footage for the Coast to Coast but Aidy won’t have his unfortunately – so I’ll be the chief media footage guy next week ha!

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First Bike Ride in AGES!!! – Good to be bike (aaaah you see what I did there?)

So today I went on a bike ride – the first time I’ve probably been on a bike in a few of years. The bike has been kindly lent to me by my good friend Gareth Macdonald who’s doing the Tough Mudder with me. Ha I even sat on it in my house to see if the seat was the right height and I fell off it losing my balance – oh god!

I started off going straight up to the top of Winter Hill without any decline and past the mast. I was looking forward to the decline after the mast until I remembered that it was a ‘pro-route’ – lots of boulders and tough paths to follow. I fell over a few times – EMBARRASSING but needed to remember it was my first ride in ages.

At this point I did something else quite stupid – I went to the Black Dog pub in Belmont – beautiful sunshine and I thought AHHH I’ll have a pint! Wait a minute I have no bike lock – I can’t leave this bike outside chancing it when going inside for the beer. So I cracked on down the main road looking for Rivington Road back to Rivington without realising that the Black Dog pub IS on Rivington Road!! You idiot Paul! I got lost – went as far as Abbey Village near Chorley before getting my bearings. Still it was an epic cycle going 35mph sometimes (in a 30 zone haha) and I went back via the Anglezark and Rivington reservoir path. Had LOADS of fun and was surprised how much fitness I had. I could have done double the distance! I look forward to my next outing! Gareth Macdonald said I can keep the bike up to my challenge so I can train on it whenever I want to! What a legend!

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