Later this year KARL HOLBROOK is taking on the 1,000 mile Deloitte Ride Across Britain cycle challenge from Lands End to John O’Groats. In his second monthly feature he dreams of the iconic route from the confines of his filthy shed.
If I’m going to have any chance of cycling the best part of 1,000 miles in nine days this year, I’m going to have to do some serious training.
But rain, floods and horrible winter roads haven’t exactly helped get my Deloitte Ride Across Britain training off to a flying start.
It’s only February and the roads have already claimed a wheel, rear derailleur, two spokes and more inner tubes than I’d care to admit to my long-suffering cycling widow.
So, to keep the wheels turning I’ve invested in a turbo trainer, allowing me to bring my training indoors. Or more to the point, inside my grotty shed.
Turbos clamp a resistance unit to your normal bike allowing your to ride it in a stationary position. It’s not the same as getting out on the roads but being able to get in a few hours on the bike while it is pouring down outside has certain benefits.
The only problem is that it is mind-numbingly boring spending hours in a filthy shed watching spiders climbing the walls while attempting to train. Not the sort of group riding I was hoping for.
So, to keep my sanity while sweating away for hours in a dirty shed, I’ve been dreaming about the iconic route I’ll be traversing during September’s epic ride.
It covers an amazing 969 miles through 23 counties and three countries, passing from St Michaels Mount in Cornwall, Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, the Severn Bridge in Bristol, the Lake District and the majestic Scottish Highlands. Each and every detail was meticulously put together by route director and former GB cyclist Andy Cook, who worked with Davina McCall and John Bishop on their Sports Relief challenges.
A lifelong cyclist, who has peddled more than 350,000 miles in his lifetime, he knows what he’s talking about.
He said: “I have been involved with every single edition of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain and ridden every mile on each occasion. I hope that this lends some credibility to the route planning in that the route director actually rides his own route.”
He shared with me his favourite parts of the route and I was surprised to by find he particularly loves the Lancashire section, which he designed to cut along the A6 through Preston and Wyre.
“The area north of Preston when we join the National Cycle Network route under the Trough of Bowland offers wonderful views across the Fylde to the coast and Blackpool Tower before entering the south eastern edge of the Lakes in Kendal,” he says.
But with so many great things to see, his heart lies elsewhere on the route.
“My all-time favourite section is without doubt the last afternoon of the route when riding from Bonar Bridge towards the North Coast at Betty Hill (in the Scottish Highlands),” he explains. “This 25-mile stretch passes alongside the Strathnaver Loch and the Strathnaver Valley and river.
“It’s an idyllic and peaceful part of the route and when we ride south to north as we will be this year. It’s a wonderful way to finish the ride.”
But it’s not all plain sailing. “Without doubt the toughest sections are days one and two in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset,” he warns. “The climbs are relentless and short sharp and steep as opposed to the longer steadier climbs experienced in Scotland and the north of England.”
There will be ups and downs, no doubt, but Andy reckons with a decent amount of training I should be fine..
“When plotting the route I am conscious of three main criteria - safety, ease of navigation and making it as scenic as possible - but also the need to make the route accessible to as wide a range of ability levels of participants as possible,” he says. “So whilst there are certainly some very challenging sections without doubt there is a need to ensure that the route does not become a smash fest of climbing which it could easily become. We want the route to be challenging but at the same time achievable by as wide an audience as possible.”
Details about the Ride Across Britain
Deloitte Ride Across Britain
September 10 -18
Social media: www.facebook.com/rideacrossbritain/