These epic Coast to Coast bike rides are all very well but we mustn’t forget there’s often a wife or husband or partner, support crew, family and friends all involved as well. Here are some reflections from our friend Sarah (Jeremy’s wife) as she sets out the experience from her perspective….
Well the day had finally arrived. There had been much preparation, what bike would be best? How much food would be consumed on the ride? Had enough training taken place? Have I got my layering right? What will the weather be doing? Would anyone like a laminated profile of the ride, with food stops? I could go on and mention bike fits and geometry but I’ll stop there!
The C2C in a day has certainly impacted my family. It seemed at times that I had mislaid my husband. There were many training sessions and many miles covered. One of my sons joined the cause too which meant for even more pontificating around the dinner table. I now know lots about STRAVA and some of its really tricky segments, gels and training programmes, cassettes, chainsets and derailleurs.
Holidays and breaks away involved several bikes, often a road and a mountain bike to keep the training rolling. From the Exmoor Beast to Coed y Brenin and some of the best one hundred rides in between. We visited some lovely spots and sometimes I even found a tea shop to recharge my batteries.
Sometimes I humoured the guys and took my bike too. I managed forty miles myself one day! However what an interesting cycle that was as I cycled on one of my husband’s bikes. Not to be recommended, extra padding was definitely required, though unavailable. Ouch!
In the middle of all this my son sat his GCSEs and training took a back seat for him whilst he studied but my Mamil continued turning those pedals. The familiar smell of sweaty lycra continued to be a regular smell in the house no matter how much washing and showering took place.
They cycled early morning and late at night. They cycled at weekends and on holiday but it was thought they probably hadn’t done enough. To be accurate my son probably hadn’t. At times I thought, am I more worried my middle aged husband will die on the C2C of a heart attack or my son will collapse because he has not built up the endurance levels necessary for such a ride at the tender age of sixteen?
I am glad I took the time to go with my daughter and wave the boys off, my daughter though young was a great help with the navigating. We are a family that uses maps not SatNav and she was just great.
My husband and son were cycling with three other friends – all Mamils – so there had been a degree of camaraderie over the last six months or so and I think it is only fair to say friendships had grown. We waved them off at 5.30am at Seascale and then drove around to Kendal to see if they had all survived Hardknott Pass. It was great to see them in Kendal. They had survived the first phase of C2C.
The day was a very long one, for the supporters. How were they getting on? Were their bikes in one piece? Where they looking after one another? Where were they?
We passed some beautiful spots as we travelled from west to east coast. We had to follow the riders for some of the course to get to Whitby. We looked out to see if we recognised anyone and offered up our admiration for what these men and women were achieving. Whilst it was nice to follow the pack for a bit, it was a relief to get away and not concentrate quite so hard on driving and negotiating so many riders safely.
It seemed Yorkshire was well and truly ready for the Tour. Hawes looked beautiful, bedecked in bunting and bikes. It seemed we were driving through one big cycling festival.
We offered moral support at most of the feed stops and took advantage of the toilet facilities. It is a long drive as well as a long cycle! I am not sure our arrival made a great deal of difference but it helped us to gauge how they were doing.
The weather just seemed to get brighter and brighter as we approached Whitby, the sun was truly shinning on us as we awaited their arrival. It was lovely as we waited watching younger and older cross the line. One little boy asked his mum “did Daddy win?” I think we all felt like winners as we watched those we love cross the line. All the hard work, absences and sacrifices did seem worth it on all our parts.
The hard work had been done – they had conquered.
However, in my household one member of my family is already looking at the logistics for next year!