Ride bikes. Have fun. Feel good.

the 3 Coasts 600

Martin Malins writes…

So; another SR series in the bag, PBP entry in the post, nothing to do now until August. There was however the little route sheet that popped through the door; to a little ride I entered (as insurance against a DNF on the Bryan Chapman) a few months ago.
I know very little about Northern rides having only previously ridden 3 Audaxes North of Birmingham; this ride would cross the LEL route twice as well as doing a coast to coast. As I arrived at the start HQ in Mytholmroyd thanks to Martin (N not M) in teeming rain there were dire predictions of flooding and route changes already.

at 06.15 I awoke from a cozy camp bed in the hall to a battleship grey sky but thankfully no rain; met several old (and a few new) acquaintances around the table for tea and toast before donning the hi-viz and going off on the first group of about 30. The road was closed about 2 km down the road so it was off on the Calder Valley cycle route which we were mercifully able to leave in favour of tarmac after a few km. After a few wrong directions which took us back down the valley we arriver at the first bus-stop checkpoint having been caught by the second group just after the first bit of white water cycling with everyone onto the pavement. Quite lumpy between here and Castleford (home of the legendary pools winner Vivian Nicholson; I certainly didn’t “spend spend spend” in the excellent bus station cafe!). Here the organiser had spread an OS map out on the table and was giving us all an alternative route as that on the route sheet was waist deep.

Armed with directions past Ferrybridge power station (its cooling towers brooding in the overcast sky; they are still a source of wonder to a Southerner like me) we rode over an old stone bridge and after a short section on the A1 were on the way out East towards Bridlington. The second control at a petrol station did not appeal so I went in search of milk shake and patisserie in the local baker before climbing up onto the Wolds on the way to Bridlington via a downpour, fortunately whilst riding under trees. Safely at the first coast (and yes I did ride the extra few hundred m to see the sea) at Bridlington for a decent meal of egg chips and beans; they had a TV on with a weather forecast; lots of rain forecast.

And the real rain finally came on the way back to Malton, a torrential shower, although for the rest of the day we managed to just miss it even though the roads were wet for almost all the route. We met the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride coming the other way, about 2000 riders on all sorts of bikes heading for Filey which kept coming almost until we turned off for the cafe. Shortly after Malton we joined the London-Edinburgh route for about 25km before heading to another garage control on the A1 where Deniece and I met Gerald also on his first 600. Now it was more or less due south back to Castelford.

There was a problem however at Cattal; the whole road was shut due to flooding. having no idea either where we were or how to avoid it we rode down to inspect. The route over the bridge was for triathletes but staying on the opposite pavement we escaped all but wet shoes to find our way to Wetherby with a local rider. He took us on a nice detour but promptly vanished; after going back to look for him we decided to press on and after a few rejoined the route outside the John Smiths brewery. Shortly after we stopped for caffeine fix (thanks Gerald for the Lidl tablets and Relentless drink)

At Castleford we rode past all the “road closed” signs to find that the water level had gone down and we reached the next garage to find it had been cleaned out by the first half of the field and had stopped serving hot drinks.

After this we went for the well lit (but unadvised) route through Wakefield; the centre of the city was like suddenly being transported to Playa de las Americas on a hot evening in August but we escaped the attentions of the revellers. And after a seemingly endless section we arrive back at the start (but by no means the finish|) at 390km including the diversion. Here the highly efficient crew showed me to my bed; and booked my wake up call. Unfortunately Deniece decided at this point to abandon and went off for a well deserved massage.

My wake-up cup of tea arrived at my bedside at exactly 0700 and after a lot of lovely cake Gerald and I set off towards Blackpool. First was the very long climb up to what I know of (as an ex- railway anorak) as Copy Pit summit before plunging back towards Burnley. Then lot of lovely lanes in driving rain before eventually it dried up as we rode onto the Fylde. Arriving at Blackpool North Pier under the tower after riding from the North Sea just for an info control seemed surreal; there are quests and quests…

More lovely lanes before Glasson Dock which seemed strangely Dutch with its yachts and canal boats for coffee and “chocolate junkyard” cake; I was getting the dozies by now. The next section was very lumpy indeed but wonderful as it passed back over the Forest of Bowland and very Yorkshire Dales-esque terrain. The last control at Whalley Abbey was a chance to eat more of the contents of the copiously stocked HQ.

The last section was even lumpier; up a plainly silly hill from Padiham (where we were raced by kids on BMX’s for all of 200m, do they ever have any more energy than this?) took us back up the long drag to Copy Pit before a lovely plunge down to Todmorden less than 5km from the finish. But it wasn’t over yet….

We had to get to Hollingworth Lake for the last control; this was via the Rochdale road which I assumed would have a sever hill avoiding Summit Tunnel, although in the end it wasn’t too bad. The lake was the 3rd “coast” having been a popular workers’ holiday resort in the early 19th century. There was only one way back from here, up Blackstone Edge. This is a classic climb, not too steep and quite easy unless you try to do it in the middle ring like me. And from the top a fantastic view across the Pennines at sunset before the amazing 10km descent back to Mytholmroyd (the longest in England) where I arrived at the finish to be given a free bottle of beer by a local micro-brewer who was also on the ride. An excellent ride and a real adventure as all rides of this distance should be.