Wednesday, 8 June 2016

C2C Day Three: Roll Into The Mist

The previous night had been a big a great time to relax and enjoy a beer and some salty food. On the drive out to get the Chinese I'd thought up a very naughty thought. As we were now off the C2C it would do no harm grabbing a lift back up the hill, back to the start of the hill. Only no one seemed to agree with me. So we were to head back up that endless wonderful downhill we'd done the day before, only this time it wouldn't be so wonderful.

Heading in to the hotel adjoining our accommodation we all stocked up on an all you can eat breakfast, including my Dad who didn't have any riding to do! Still as we sat in our Lycra under a massive chandelier we could see a lot of people in a worse state than us as the leftovers of the previous days wedding tried to eat their hangover cure.

We had an added luxury that morning in that we could shed some weight and not just by Andy heading to the toilet. With the Love Bus leaving us at the start and then meeting us at the end we could leave all non essentials behind and ride like the rest of the people on the route. The previous night we'd had fresh 'disco' clothes as Jon had called them, today we had fresh riding gear and nothing else needed.

Heading out of the hotel we were down the now small feeling descent and on to the climb. Tapping out a steady rhythm Spanners pulls level "I'm not letting you have this one". "Oh no, we're still doing this are we" I thought. "You can have it" I said, hoping to bluff him and he'd ride at a steady pace. Of course he didn't buy it, of course he didn't. How did I not realise he was going to take this seriously. Looking back he'd shed his panniers AND his pannier racks. Not only that but he'd announced it! Now he was accelerating away from me.

No Panniers For Spanners
Tired and not ready I thought I'd see how my legs felt. I pressed a bit harder and responded OK. Keeping him ahead of me I started to enjoy the climb. It was a beautiful day and the steep start of 15% had changed to a much more flattering 5%. The hill had duped me, I'd thought my legs were getting better, that I was improving as the climb went on. I started putting everything in to the climb, trying with all my might to pull him back. I was nowhere. He was disappearing around corners ahead of me and the gap wasn't dropping. In fact looking back afterwards on Strava's excellent Flyby feature (where you can see where you are on the road compared to them) I can see I matched him early on but at the end when I was putting it all in he was opening up the gap. The last hill was Spanner's, it had been great having a sparring partner and he'd really pushed me on, I'd enjoyed the last hill as much as the others, especially in the sunshine.

Sweaty and overdressed we all stripped to the waist, applied sun scream and we were off downhill. It was now free wheeling territory and not just because of a mechanical issue this time. It was a weird feeling, great to have an easier ride but it also meant we were getting closer to the end of the ride. We'd had such good weather and a great time in beautiful surroundings. We were off road for most of the ride in to Sunderland and able to chat our way back to the bus.

We took in the sights, The Stadium of Light came in to view and now we were beside the water we knew any uphill would have a downhill. Neither were particularly welcome on tired legs and the more it dragged out before getting to the end, the more we just wanted to see it end. Andy and Jon were certainly looking forward to a pint at the finish. If only we could find it.

Even when we got to the sea and the beach we couldn't find the official end. Having been slowed down by a lifeboat training exercise we'd travelled around the last couple of miles with my Dad on foot. With it out of the way we'd headed out in to the mist to the lighthouse. Photos taken there and on the beach, we were done. The end it turns out was an arty piece with a hole in the middle which was great for photos. So Andy and Jon got their pints and we got to eat our weight in saturated fat for one last time. Job done.