Written by Mark Reynolds on 25th July 2021


              Enjoying the cool sea air at the dawn start


Two of the club’s members, David Dyer and Sarah Davies, took part on July 17th in this year’s “coast2coast2coast” event. No strangers to long-distance rides, they already count Paris-Brest-Paris (1,200 km), Windsor-Chester-Windsor (600 km) and Sweden’s Vätternrundan (315 km) among their palmarès so what was the appeal of “coast2coast2coast”?

We asked David and Sarah about their thinking and experiences and this is what they had to say…



Q:  What first attracted you to the “coast2coast2coast” event?


David: There are many famous routes which cross the country: John  O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) and the reverse route (LEJOG) are popular and typically take 5 - 10 days to complete. There is also the “Chase the Sun” Event which crosses the country from East to West in one day. I fancied doing the ride from Cresswell on the East coast to Bowness on the Solway Firth. It’s shorter than the Southern crossing but the catch is that you have to go both ways within 24 hours - a total of 305 km.  Apart from being a chance to ride in a totally different part of the country, it also started conveniently close to where my son lives.


Sarah: I hadn’t done a ride of more than 200km since completing the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) ride in the summer of 2019, and I really fancied doing some different roads.  Two things made me choose this event   firstly my sister lives in Morpeth so I had a place to stay and secondly my husband did coast to coast in 5 days with his mates – so I just had to upstage him by going both ways in one day!




Q: Is this the first time you have taken part?


Sarah: Yes – I had never really looked at events in the North of England before due to logistics and time getting there – but I think that might change in future.


David: I have done a number of audax rides of this length and longer, but not this route.





Q: What event-specific training did you do?


David: Nothing particular, just continued my regular cycling including the Sunday club runs with MDCC and some Saturday rides with my tri club.


Sarah: None really.  As most of you know I am someone who doesn’t ride fast, but likes to ride a long way and I make a point of maintaining my regular monthly distance.  However, I did make sure I included a couple of 200 km rides in the weeks leading up to the event. If you can do a 200 km ride without difficulty, the adrenaline will probably carry you through the extra 100 km but it would be a mistake to think that you can cycle over 300 km without some careful preparation.




Q: What were the logistical considerations? (e.g. How did you get to the start point? How did you transport your bike? How did you get back from where you finished the ride? Did you have to stay overnight anywhere?)


Sarah: I was lucky – my sister lives in Morpeth which is about 10km from the start and was happy for me to treat her home like a hotel.  Her husband even got up at 6am to ensure I had a decent coffee before heading off.  The drive home to Maidenhead on Sunday was long, but it was a good excuse not to do any exercise for the day!


David: I visited my son in Newcastle and drove the 30 minutes from there to the start/finish.



Scone and coffee stop at about 80 km




Q: To what extent was it a “supported” ride or did participants need to be totally self-sufficient?

Sarah: It was more supported than I thought it would be for the very modest £8.50 fee!  It was a typical audax, so there were no feed stations like you would expect on a sportive, and we had to get receipts from a couple of shops and answer some questions about landmarks to prove we had done the course.  However, there was one stop where the organiser was waiting with bananas, coke, water and muesli bars and at the half way point we were provided with a bacon butty which was exactly what I needed – there was also steak pie and gravy followed by apple cake and cream at the end!  The most impressive thing, though, was a gentleman in a polka dot cap – I think he must have been part of the Tyne Vagabonds who organised the event – who waited at the top of one of the hills with cold water – with July’s sudden heatwave that was an absolute godsend!


David: Like all audax events you have to be self-sufficient sorting out any mechanicals and taking or buying refreshments on the way as there is little support. However food was laid on at the half-way point and finish and with the heat there were a couple of water stops.


A welcome bacon butty at Bowness - the halfway point


Q: How did you manage with the navigation and things like battery life?


Sarah: I have a dynamo hub on my bike which not only powers my lights but also includes a USB charging socket which I used to ensure my Garmin and phone were fully charged throughout.  It is marginal whether this is absolutely necessary on a 15 hour 300km ride – but for 88 hours and 1,200 km on PBP it most definitely was.


David: I followed the route sheet and Sarah followed her Garmin so between us we got through ok.




Q: What was your overall experience of the ride itself? How much did the weather conditions play a part?


Sarah: It was an amazing ride actually – the roads were generally very good, and amazingly quiet!  Maybe we are just used to the SE but at times we wondered whether there was something on the TV that everyone was watching, or whether everyone was on the beach…but locals told us that this was normal.  The scenery was lovely – following Hadrian’s Wall one way, then over the North Pennines on the way back.  However, the heat affected me much more than I thought it would.  It was completely sunny throughout and temperatures peaked in the high 20’s – with a headwind all the way there.  Without Dave to tow me for the second half of the outward leg I would not have made it. I have never struggled with cramp before – but I just didn’t seem to be able to keep up with getting water and electrolytes in to replace the amount of sweat that poured out!  The bacon butty and coke at the half way point and the tailwind on the way back helped tremendously!  Another thing that was surprising was the flies – there were a lot of them – as the sun started to set and we were climbing slowly over the Pennines they were enjoying a very salty snack – all over me!


David: A great event very well organised. The headwind out and the extreme heat made it tough though especially on the long stretches of dead-straight Roman military roads which seemed to stretch out endlessly into the distance through the heat haze.



…contrasting with quiet country lanes



There were long stretches of dead-straight Roman military roads which seemed to stretch out endlessly into the distance through the heat haze…



Q: What advice would you give to someone considering taking part in 2022?


David: You really should do it - it's a great event.


Sarah: But be ready when entries open!  I think this one will fill up quickly.  It is an audax so there aren’t many spaces available.  I would also say that the weather will probably not be as sunny and hot next time, and to make sure you have plenty of miles in the legs – and practise the climbing.  But, the time cut offs are generous (we got in at 11:15pm – the cut off was 3:15am so had plenty of spare time) so it’s completely achievable.




Q: Any other thoughts, comments or advice?


Sarah: I know it can be dangerous to generalise but I must say that I find Northerners are super friendly!  I was very impressed with the organisation of this ride, and would definitely recommend it.  I may even try some of their other rides (they do a variety of 100km to 600km events)



Confused, lost or just shattered and with heatstroke?




Official websites where you can find further information about the event: