2015 Coast 2 Coast

Total distance: 136 miles (217.6 kilometres)


In two fairly large departures from the norm, this year the CircumCycle crew decided to (a) widen the inclusion criteria and allow girls to play as well, and (b) cycle in a straightish line for once instead of going around in circles by doing the C2C or 'Coast to Coast' cycle route from Whitehaven to Sunderland.

Actually, being honest about this, it was the girls' idea to do the C2C, and it may have been more the case that the BOTTOM (Boys Of Thame Touring Oxfordshire's Margins) boys were being allowed to join in with them. We gave in with good grace and a bit of grumbling - he wouldn't be Leo otherwise - and the date of the ride was set to be early September.

The team was to be made up of Stella and Graham, Barney and Lori, and Leo and Sam. Since Leo and Sam decided to borrow Barney's tandem, they don't get an 'and' between them, so the team initials became SAG,BAL,LS. We decided to forego printing the team name on our shirts.

The C2C route is well marked and signposted, and there are several sections with options for either off-road or on-road, so after a planning beer or two we decided to do the on-road route between Whitehaven and Sunderland over a three day weekend from Saturday to Monday. We would have to go up to Penrith on Friday night in order to get a reasonably early start Saturday morning, and could get a man with a van to transport us to Whitehaven on Saturday, and pick us up from Sunderland on Monday afternoon. There are apparently people who do this.

We would therefore need to do a day ride on Saturday, leaving cars and the bulk of our kit in Penrith, and staying Friday night and Saturday night in the same guest house. Sunday and Monday we would carry overnight stuff with us, and aim to get to Sunderland with enough time in the day to be man-with-vanned back to Penrith, load bikes back into our own vehicles and drive back down South.


Since Stella wasn't at the planning meeting she was unanimously voted in absentia to be accommodation officer, and boy, did she do a good job. We think she should be in charge of accommodation for all our rides from now on. Well done, Stella!

She booked us in to the Norcroft Guest House in Penrith on Friday and Saturday night, and to the Rookhope Inn in Rookhope for Sunday night. We found both places to be welcoming, cycle friendly, and staffed by lovely, lovely people. More of that later, however if you are planning your own C2C, please take our wholehearted recommendation for both venues.

Day one

Wet beginnings

After a dry trip up North on Friday, Saturday morning was damp, with heavy rain forecast, followed by showers.

A full-on breakfast served with a smile and a story - ask Norcroft House host John about the fire marshal, you'll start your day with a grin - followed by Paul, the man-with-the-van, turning up with his trailer just as we finished coffee got us off to a good start. We had a couple of problems getting four bikes and a tandem on the trailer, since it was designed for mountain bikes with fat tyres and no mudguards, but the judicious application of around 15 bungy cords and some padding solved these handily.

Note to self: everything remotely fall-offable should be removed from your bike before putting it on a trailer and driving at 70 mph down the A66 in the pouring rain. We didn't actually lose anything, but looking out of the rear window at lights, pumps, under saddle tool kits, speedometers, bar bags and water bottles rattling around as they didn't quite fall off is not conducive to a relaxed start to your trip. Maybe it's just me, since nobody else seemed that worried, and all my stuff was safely in the van by my feet anyway, but hey, someone has to look out for these things haven't they?

OK, maybe not.

The start

It was still tipping down with rain as we pulled up to the sea-front at Whitehaven, but there is a large, round, covered gazebo-type thing under which you can unload bikes and get your stuff ready to roll. Paul parked just at the edge of the outer awning of this, so Leo got three metres of sideways awning water as well as the vertical stuff coming out of the sky down his neck as he untied the tandem, but hey, that's character forming isn't it?

OK, maybe not.

The girls tripped off to the toilet while the rest of us got our gear together and did final checks on the bikes. When they came back, we did the obligatory 'dipping the rear wheel in the Irish Sea' bit to prove that we'd started right at the edge of the country, and Leo mentioned that since the tandem was half a bike length longer than normal bikes, he and Sam didn't have to cycle as far as the others in order to dip their front wheel in the North Sea at the other end of the ride.

Sneaky, eh?

Graham asked Barney why Lori was wearing a purple waterproof instead of the team orange ones, but Barney wouldn't tell him. A nice man from another group of riders who were just about to start their trip took a picture of us with our wheels in the water at the bottom of the slipway - note, this is very aptly named when it's raining, especially if you're wearing cleats. Be very careful to dip only the rear wheel of your bike, not your bike, your kit and yourself - and then we mounted our trusty steeds and set off.

A couple of roads led almost immediately to a narrow path away from the traffic, which was welcome, and then a series of hairpin bends up a very short steep hill, which was less so. Tandems have a long wheel base, which means a wider turning circle, which means slower speeds on tight corners, which means a lower gear, which means plan ahead! Since Leo was not fully into cycle mode yet, he and Sam nearly came a cropper within the first mile of the ride.

Stupid, eh?

Whitehaven to Threkeld - 35 miles

It was still raining fairly heavily, but once on the cycle path we were fairly quickly away from the town and into a wooded area, so we were protected a little from all the weather pouring out of the sky. Cycling did seem to be harder work than normal though, and a quick visual check of brakes not rubbing and tyres properly inflated seemed to be in order. Sam pointed out that we were in fact going uphill, and these symptoms became easier to understand.

Yep, definitely stupid.

We settled into a routine of Barney at the front, since he had the map mounted on his handlebars, followed by either Lori or Stella, and then by either LeoSam on the tandem or Graham. We met relatively few people coming the other way, since C2C is traditionally done West to East in order to get help from the prevailing wind.

Our average speed was definitely lower than usual, but we had less far to travel, and we were going uphill, so nobody except Barney was really worried. He mentioned 'single-figure miles per hour' a couple of times, but we all just ignored him. The morning heavy rain imperceptibly became lighter, and we stopped a few times to regroup at the tops of the less gentle hills, but the general consensus seemed to be a positive outlook. We were on our way, the weather was improving, the views were getting more and more stunning, and nothing had gone wrong.


Cleator Moor, Kirkland and Lorton were dispatched with aplomb, or at least without too much bother. We had met one gentleman coming the other way on our way out of Cleator Moor who seemed to be going at a fair pace. This was confirmed when he caught us up again from behind on our way up to Lorton. He mentioned to Leo that Sam wasn't pedalling on the back of the tandem, but then stayed with us for a few miles chatting about his own tandem, the fact that his wife refused to go out with him on it, and that he had done the C2C several times in the past, once running it in 56 hours. Definitely fitter than us, and faster than us. It would be too embarrassing to mention that he was also considerably older than us.

So I won't.

We headed on past a few lakes - there seem to be several of them in this district - and Lori declared it smelled like home. We pointed out that she lives in Maidenhead, but apparently she meant Canada, where pine forests and lakes abound. Graham asked if perhaps the choice of colour for her waterproof was Canadian-based? Apparently not.

Once past Lorton there is a long, but relatively gentle climb up the Whinlatter Pass, with uphill slopes on the left, but gloriously beautiful landscapes out over the valley and to the hills the other side on the right. Failing to take a moment to appreciate these views is a wasted life opportunity and a guarantee of several comments from your tandem stoker to that effect.

After Whinlatter there was a gratefully accepted downhill section through Braithwaite to Keswick, where we were thinking of stopping for lunch. Keswick was full, though. Full of walkers, cyclists, sightseers, and generally outdoorsy people. I've never seen so many cyclists in one place outside of a BikeEvents start. Several other people were wearing waterproofs similar to ours, and one chap remarked at the traffic lights that his mate was lost in a sea of orange. Lori stood out though - Graham wondered if this was why she was in purple, but wisely held his tongue.

We decided to head on out of town for a quieter lunch venue, and headed for Threkeld.

The route is along a wooded track with a cinder surface which may affect road bikes with very narrow tyres, but was fine for our slightly wider hybrid / cyclocross tyres. There were lots of walkers and other cyclists, many of whom took an interest in the tandem, and several remarked that Sam wasn't pedalling. The path crosses the winding river Greta several times on the way up towards Threkeld, and having lost count of the bridges and the different directions the water seemed to be flowing, it did occur to Leo that one heck of a game of poohsticks could be had if we were going the other way. Lunch beckoned, however, and we appeared to be running out of options, since there was only one pub listed on the route in Threkeld, the Horse and Farrier Inn.

Six fairly damp but still mostly orange cyclists dismounted at the pub, and having ascertained they were still serving food sat down to a fabulous and well-deserved meal. The beer was good, the food plentiful and tasty, and the staff friendly and welcoming, obviously used to damp cyclists appearing and requiring victuals.

Lunch was declared to be a resounding success, and we set off for the second half of the day with renewed optimism, if not vigour.

Threkeld to Penrith - 20 miles

The ride from Threkeld back to Penrith that afternoon was showery, but with dramatic skies. The landscape is Cumbrian - that's 'hills and sheep' rather than 'dinosaurs' - in fact you're virtually smack in the middle of the county at this point, a place CircumCyclists rarely go. The roads are quiet on the C2C route, and there was a fair bit more downhill stuff than there had been in the morning. This made for slightly more smiles, and a more positive outlook from the group as a whole. It helped that Leo had been fed, so the group Grump Index (GI) was significantly lowered.

We left the main road and headed up towards Greystoke and Blencow. Stella was having a little trouble with the lower gears on her bike, with the chain not indexing properly on hills, and she was getting increasingly frustrated with being unable to go up the steeper climbs unless she changed up to the front chainring before changing down at the back to the bottom two gears. She decided to press on for the present though, and fix it at the end of the day. The sun came out and Lori removed her purple waterproof, revealing an orange top underneath. Graham wondered why she didn't have an orange waterproof to go with the rest of the team, but nobody told him the answer.

Strangely, the route between Greystoke and Penrith takes you through the middle of Newton Rigg college, which was empty on a Saturday afternoon. Cycling between whitewashed post-war concrete huts was a strange experience. It seemed almost wrong to be cycling on what was apparently a footpath through the middle of private land, but since nobody was around it felt like the set of a zombie film where growling, mindless eaters of brains were hiding just behind the closed doors. A trifle unsettling, anyway.

Successfully evading the non-existent hordes of zombies, we carried on along the road, under the M6 and the railway line, rejoining proper roads less than 300 metres from the guest house.

Almost without realising, we'd completed day one.

Showers all around, and then an extremely nice Italian meal at the Villa Bianca finished the day off nicely, and bed beckoned.

Day two

Penrith to Nenthead - 35 miles

Sunday dawned eponymously, and after another superb breakfast from Norcroft House we packed all the extra kit we didn't need in the cars, and set off carrying snacks, overnight stuff and next day's cycling clothes. We arranged with the marvellous John that the following day, when we arrived back after the end of the ride, we could make swift use of a room and shower to clean up a bit before the long drive home. It's this sort of thing that makes a guest house great instead of just good, and I would definitely label Norcroft as 'great'.

Sadly, barely three minutes out of the front door we started to go up a hill. This was to set the scene for the day - virtually all up. Plenty of granny gear, grinding slowly up gradients, and getting to the top only to see more ups in the near distance.

At the top of the first hill was a wonderful view back down to Penrith town, and there was an old people's care home by the road. Slightly non-PC images occurred to me of little old ladies saying, "Just off to the shops dear. Won't be ten minutes." And tottering increasingly quickly down the hill to the town, then needing to be picked up by car to get back home.

We'd done some work on Stella's bike to try and improve the gears that morning, but it didn't seem to have worked. She also was in a bit of pain from a neck muscle spasm, so sadly she didn't have a very pleasant day.

Sam had a much more enjoyable morning on the back of the tandem, hardly pedalling at all according to the people we passed, and getting the hang of taking pictures on the move. We got through Langwathby without too many incidents, crossing the river Eden on the way, and pedalled our way up through Salkeld to a historic stone circle called 'Long Meg and Her Daughters' where we had a snack stop.

Long Meg is a tall standing stone just outside a large ring of smaller stones dating from the Neolithic or Bronze age. All sorts of stories abound about the origins and folklore of the structure, but whether Long Meg was a witch or not, she and her daughters made a good spot to take a rest stop and gird our loins and any other bits that required girding before the climb through the Pennines proper began.

Kirkoswald and Renwick passed in a blur, mainly because we were concentrating on the big climb ahead: Hartside Pass. This is touted as one of the steepest climbs on the C2C route, but really it's not that steep, just a hugely long drag, half of which is on the A686, so there is traffic to deal with as well. Cars are not the problem here, though. Sadly it's bikes. Bikes with engines.

Actually it's not the bikes with engines that are the problem either. It's the bikes with engines' riders. They seem to leave their brains at the bottom of the road, and spend most of the way up, and down the other side, going around the corners as fast and as loudly as they can, with no apparent concern for safety or other people.

However, leaving the bikes with engines and their riders out of the equation, cycling up Hartside Pass is a real achievement. Many people have to get off and push. Many people - including LeoSam, Graham and Stella had to stop for a breather. Lori made it all the way to the track that cuts off the hairpin, and then elected to get off and push up the 300m track rather than cycle the extra half mile along the road. This is the method suggested in the route guide. The rest of us slogged our way around the extra hairpin, and ground our way slowly to the summit car park, where we took an extremely well-earned break outside the Hartside café. Kudos to Barney, who didn't stop at all on the way up, and reached the top around 10 minutes ahead of the rest of us, who were left spread out all over the road.

The bad news, that this was not yet the highest point on the ride, was received with less than wholehearted enthusiasm, but we set off again after a short photo break and carried on towards our lunch stop.

This necessitated going down the other side of Hartside Pass first, before climbing again from Garrigil up to Nenthead. The road down to Leadgate was narrow and fairly steep, and one of the advantages of a long wheelbase and extra weight on a tandem came to the fore, as LeoSam easily outpaced everyone else on twitchy solo bikes, and this time Sam admitted to not pedalling. The pace dropped quickly from Garrigil though - we could see a road going up an extremely steep hill beside a wood on the other side of the valley, and it looked suspiciously like our route out. Barney put a brave face on it, and mentioned that this would be the highest point today, but we still had to get up there.

Everybody dipped deep into their own personal reserves, and we all made our grinding granny gear way up the hill however we could. The first bit was the worst - even Barney had to get off and push at one point - and then the next bit was the worst too. After that it just got harder. Around the next corner was another bit of hill. Then another. At last we reached the top, and the vista spread out before and behind us was very nearly worth it.

OK, actually it was.

The cycle down into Nenthead was even steeper than the way up, and this time even LeoSam had to brake firmly in order to control the descent. We all needed a break by now, and on reaching the village we found a small bike shop right next door to a pub. Barney made a beeline for the bike shop as he had a small problem with his chain, and Sam made a timid investigation of the pub. She came back to say it was shut, and suddenly everybody went very quiet. This was apparently the only place to eat in Nenthead.

Really? Are we going to get no lunch at all then? Is it too late to eat? Where is the next possible place? How far uphill do we have to go to get there? All these thoughts went through each of our brains in the next three seconds, before Leo decided to give it another look. He pulled the door and went inside - it wasn't locked - and found a bar with two people sitting at it - it wasn't shut.

There was even a lady in the dining conservatory room, but she seemed to be clearing up. He approached and asked if they were still serving food, and her face fell.

She said that she had just that minute sent the other staff, her sister, home as it was a quiet day and nothing seemed to be going on. The expression on his face must have been very persuasive, because she phoned her sister and asked her to come back in again.

From rock bottom, with GI values skyrocketing, to general happiness and GI plummeting, all in the space of five seconds.

We were ushered to a central table in the conservatory, and within minutes we had crisps and beer. We all gave Sam a hard time for not being brave enough to open the front door, and when the extremely nice and welcoming lady put a large blackboard with specials on beside our table things got even better. When the food arrived it was not only plentiful, but really good too. GI was approaching zero by this point, which is pretty much unheard of.

Most of us had a great lunch. Stella, however, had been having a hard morning. Her neck was still really painful, and her bike was still acting up on the hills, so she was a little upset. We'd seen the hills out of Nenthead, and they seemed fairly forbidding, so perhaps she was still worried about completing the ride successfully. Whatever the case, she was noticeably quiet during lunch.

Nenthead to Rookhope - 12 miles

Ablutions and refilling of water bottles completed, we set off up the hill out of Nenthead, and found ourselves in granny gear yet again. About 600m up the A689 we needed to turn left, and our group rules say wait at every junction until the next person has seen you turning. LeoSam passed Stella on the way to the turning, and Lori just after. Graham was still at the pub for some reason, so Stella had to wait for him. She was less than pleased, since she was having a hard time getting up the hill anyway, and she made this plain to us all once we reached the top. The group rules may need modification.

There was one good thing though. We were now at the highest point in the whole C2C route, over 600m above sea level, and we were on the way out of Cumbria and into Northumberland.

The phrase, "It's all downhill from here," sadly was not the case in this situation. Yes, we were at the top. Yes, there was going to be a lot of downhill between here and the North Sea. But yes, there were more hills between the two.

A short down was followed by an up, and then another, and then another. The road out of Allenheads was another proper hill, with hairpins and more false summits. Granny gear was really getting a good turn today.

Once at the top of Allenheads, however, it really was downhill all the way to Rookhope, where we were to stay the night. Five miles of long, steady downhill. The road follows Rookhope Burn, the stream running down the hill from the top of the valley, and like most streams, it flows downhill. We followed it. Happily.

Downhill. (You get the picture?)

Rookhope Inn is right on the C2C route, and there was a great group sigh of relief when we arrived. Barney and Graham went in first.

"Ah, you must be the cyclists booked in for the night, yes? You'll be wanting to put your bikes in the shed, then?"

"We thought we might have a beer first, if that's OK."

"Oh, sorry. We don't serve beer."

The fact that the lady who said this was standing behind the bar, in a pub with several locals, all nursing a pint of one sort or another, made this a very funny joke.

Perhaps you had to be there, but it's yet another example of the almost invariably welcoming and friendly nature of the people we met on this ride.

Once the first pint was safely inhaled we put the bikes away, were shown to our rooms, and left alone to get ready for supper, which once again was plentiful, tasty and served with a smile.

Day three

Rookhope to Parkhead Tea Rooms - 9 miles

The next morning, no longer eponymous - what is a 'Mon' anyway? - was misty, and looked to remain so. After another hearty breakfast the SAGBALLS once more set forth on their mostly trusty steeds, again eschewing the American way, and heading East.

The first decision to make, whether or not to take the off-road route out of Rookhope in order to see some sort of industrial machinery on the moors or something, was shot down quite literally as the route was closed due to the grouse shooting season. A large sign plastered over the turn off point made this quite clear, as had the barman the night before.

Having had a look at the route profile overnight, it didn't actually seem to make much difference to the number of metres of up and down we had to do - the off road route just did the up bits earlier as far as we could see - so we headed off downhill towards Stanhope.

Barney had warned us that there was only one more big hill to come, so the rest of us were not totally surprised when we started going up again fairly soon. However, we were all used to it by now, and, grinding granny down even further, we made our way to the top, thinking happy thoughts about this being the last hill we needed to go up.

Sadly - why do I keep using this word? - the hill in question was not even marked on Barney's route guide, let alone being given a chevron for being steep, but it was indubitably there, and definitely steeper than some of the other hills we'd been up which had been marked.

Did Barney take the wrong road? Could he actually be wrong?

No. The map's wrong, obviously.

Once warned though, we continued on through Stanhope, and started up the real last hill, through Crawleyside.

Having been psyched out by the first one, LeoSam got off and started pushing quite early, after overtaking Stella and Graham, who then overtook them back. Graham kept on plugging away, and disappeared around the corner. Stella cycled up the steepest bit, got completely blown, and had to push with LeoSam for quite a while.

It really is quite a steep hill.

The top would have had quite a view if it wasn't misty, however the mist did conceal from us the fact that the top wasn't the top. There was supposed to be a café at the top, and a building loomed out of the mist on our left, but that wasn't it. We kept going out onto the moors, leaving Stanhope well and truly behind us, and still couldn't see anything approaching a café.

A turn off to the right, with what looked like a rusting seaside children's ride railway carriage by the side of the road, looked to be it. Could it be? LeoSam crunched their gears changing pace and direction at the last minute, and successfully dropped the chain off the inner chainring and wound it around the bottom bracket. Twenty minutes and at least three oily hands later we turned the tandem upright again, and made our way up the misty track to the café, which looked shut. We didn't ask Sam to check though - Barney and Graham went straight in, proving it was in fact open.

The Parkhead Tea Rooms are off the main road, and are actually sited at what looks like the remains of some sort of railway station, with the cycle track laid where the rails used to be. The cycle path at this point is called the 'Waskerley Way', and we really were at the top of the last proper hill before Sunderland.

Yet again, we were welcomed warmly, given carrot cake and tea - or toast and marmite (well, vegemite) for Leo, who always has to be difficult - and we rested our weary limbs for half an hour, chatting to some of the other cyclists who came in shortly after us.

Parkhead Tea Rooms to Sunderland - 34 miles

Having been delayed for a while by the tandem troubles, we needed to make some progress if we were to get to Sunderland in good time to meet Paul and his van, so back on the bikes for the last stretch it was.

The mist had come down properly while we were eating, and wearing glasses in the mist while cycling on a narrow cinder track, downhill at speeds approaching erk is not necessarily a good thing to do. Especially when every now and then there is a gate across the path. LeoSam had a couple of moments, but the tandem does have good brakes, and the orange tops of (most) of the others were making them more visible. Graham asked Lori why her waterproof top was purple instead of orange, like the rest of us, but she wouldn't tell him.

I've always wondered about that scene in the film, 'American Werewolf in London' near the beginning when the lads are turned away from the pub and warned to, "Stay on the path!" I've never understood why staying on the path would have made any difference to the outcome whatsoever. To us though, staying on the path just then seemed like a very good idea, and in fact not one of us was attacked by a werewolf.

Perhaps there was something in the warning after all?

Once out of the clouds visibility became much better, and the Waskerley Way took us gently downhill for several miles before heading into Consett, where we encountered more people interested in the tandem. "Why's she cycling so close behind him, like?" was the best comment.

Coming out of Consett there's a roundabout near the Jolly Drover's pub, and the path dives off to one side and runs through a completely inexplicable series of tight chicanes, edged by such tall grass it was impossible to see if someone was coming the other way. The tandem team took these very carefully, having learned their lesson on day one.

Then it was just a sprint to the finish.

With a puncture for Barney in the woods outside Washington.

Then a puncture for Stella near the Wearside golf course.

Then the front tandem chain coming off on a short steep piece of up. (Not a proper hill, honest. There aren't any more of those on the route!)

Why these things happen when you're in a hurry, nobody knows. Perhaps it's because you're in a hurry?

All of a sudden we were beside a river. It was the Wear, and we were nearly there. It was all flat from then on, and no thoughts of Weariness (see what I did there?) entered our minds. The path wound along the bank, around the yacht basin, past the fishermen ("She's not pedalling, you know"), and on to the sea front at Roker Beach at last.

Barney was reluctant to admit that this was the end of the ride though, so we went up the coast a few hundred yards, looking for some sort of C2C monument like there is at the start. Half way along Marine Walk we found it - a large black marble stone with a big hole through the middle. We weren't sure what it signifies, and we were in a hurry, because Paul and his van were waiting just off the esplanade, so we couldn't take the time to read the sign board beside it.

We took the bikes down onto the sand, and dipped the front wheels in the water, so yes, the tandem did go less distance than the other bikes.


The trip in the van back to Penrith was a bit of an anticlimax. The fact that it took around 2 hours to cover the same amount of ground as it took us cyclists 2 days to do may be worth mentioning, but Paul delivered us back to Norcroft House safe and sound, and drove away with our grateful thanks. We loaded the bikes up, took the much-needed shower offered by John, and went back home tired, but feeling we had all achieved something worthwhile.

If you get the chance, you should do the C2C ride. It's not easy, but then again, not much that's worth doing ever is.


One week later I asked the team what single most memorable thing would stay with them from the ride.

Barney - "A picture of a smiling Sam behind a normal Leo. I also loved the picture of the Heartsink (Hartside) climb - from the top. The most memorable event though was the tandem chain coming off and having to fix it."

Lori - "For me it has to be the ride through the pine-scented forest with views of Loweswater lake, which is not to be confused with a toilet, Graham. It was a personal memory moment that reminded me of who I am and my roots. Separately I thought Stella was amazing to do the course without a first gear. Also, I was intrigued at the lack of vegetables up North. All of the beautiful scenery and quiet roads are a blur now, but it was stunning. What a great and fun team."

Graham - "My favourite section was the long climb to Hartsink (Hartside) Pass. It was long but not too challenging. Fantastic views, and a great prize at the top. By the way, I had a banana and a gel on the way up, just in case I hadn't mentioned before."

Stella - "You really do not want to know."

Sam - "Leo's back. And the scenery. And Barney refusing to accept that that was the sea and we'd arrived in Sunderland. And the sense of achievement on arrival at the summit of Hartside Pass."

Leo - "Standing at the top of a hill, looking out over three or four miles of the most amazing and beautiful landscape to see a steep road winding up the opposite side of the valley through a wood and off into the distance, and thinking, "Shit. I've got to cycle up that."


PS If you really have to know why Lori's waterproof was purple, ask Graham. Barney told him on the way back, but I wasn't listening.