Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

July 1, 2012

UK Coast to Coast in a Day, 150 miles, 30 June 2012

I saw two oceans today.   And I cycled between them.  Personal proof positive (as if I needed it) that I really do live on an island now.

But not a small island by any stretch.  The Coast to Coast (In A Day) Sportif cycling route covered exactly 150 miles. It's not a ride for flatlanders either, containing over 15,000 feet of climbing. 

On the plus side, the dominant westerly wind was out in force, blowing us quickly to the east.  Who wouldn't want to ride ALL DAY with a tailwind?!?

The Irish Sea
Starting at around 6 am, I waved goodbye to the Irish Sea in the village of Seascale and headed inland.  In the distance was the first of the 3 national parks on the ride, the Lake District.  Later to come would be the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors.   Standing in our way immediately were two high passes, with such steep, winding roads that it was impossibly hard to ride up (or down) them. 

After a few flat miles, the hill began, and I was immediately reminded that:
1) My Time Trial bike was not geared appropriately for the mountains
2) I hadn't ridden a road bike since March
3) I was still tired from flying home from Slovenia the day before (those photos coming soon)

You guessed it...I walked up the hill for a few miles.  So did a lot of other riders.  Kudos to those who passed me actually riding, even if they were panting heavily and not going much faster than I was walking.

The downhill was even scarier than the uphill, and I passed one guy actually walking down. I asked him why (yup, it was a ride-your-brakes-heavily-and-go-really-slow) downhill, and he said he had fallen off and couldn't figure out how to get back on! 

Anyway, safely past that there were a few miles of nicely wooded sections which brought us to the Windermere ferry, all much flatter than I had feared.  Once past the ferry there were a few more hills, but in Sedbergh the fun really started.  Somehow from there all the way through Hawes to Northallerton, it was FLAT.  Ok, there were a few small climbs, but for the most part my memory of the middle section is of flying along at over 20mph with a tailwind with most of it feeling downhill.  I kid you not.  So the Yorkshire Dales passed by rather quickly!

There was spotty rain over the course of the day, also some sunshine and the strong western tailwind (the UK daily weather forecast in a nutshell, really).  I managed to avoid the heaviest rain until I was riding in the Vale of York, where I could see a heavy cloud coming my way.  I hope to avoid it by riding quickly (hah!) to the east towards the North Yorkshire Moors, but alas, by that time I wasn't going very fast!  The lightning and thunderstorm overtook me and dumped a quick drenching with a few small bits of hail before heading to the coast.  It was warm enough I didn't bother with a raincoat but suffered with being wet the rest of the ride.   
The North Sea

The North Yorkshire Moors were the sting in the tail of the ride.  Leaving the last aid station (chili and chocolate cake, yum!) there were less than 30 miles left, but they were suprisingly hilly.  Perhaps I had just wished it would be flat the rest of the way.  Lots of ups and downs that lasted until just before the final descent to Whitby.   Oh, and it rained again.  By the end, I was walking up most of the hills, and blaming it unjustly on my limited gearing.  It was very fun to see the North Sea, and the finish line.

Rob was awesome as my suport, being willing to drive me to the western coast for the start, then spend all day waiting for me to finish on the east coast, then drive my broken & tired self home again.  He did get to see some great scenery and get photos along the way (and hide in the car during frequent rain showers!)

Final time was 12:48, luckily under my goal of 13 hours, which was set randomly before I knew much about the route at all!

On a more humbling note, this distance isn't much more than the Tour de France (which started today) riders will cover daily, but they'll do it almost every day for three weeks in a row.   While going twice as fast as I was.  Hmmm.

Results are here, I was 8th female and some where past middle overall.  Just happy to have finished in daylight, really.

At the start

Whitby Harbor
Whitby after the rain showers

The finish in Whitby, look the sun is shining!


  1. Congrats! Loved all the pictures. Looks like a beautiful and challenging) ride.

    1. Thanks Mike! It was nice to see the country all in one go...guess next I should try for LEJOG?

  2. Great race! Great Bike! Love the pictures.
    I need to find some time with my camera while on vacation.

    1. Cat, enjoy your vacation and smelling the roses give you time to take photos of them!

  3. Nice one Dawn... TT bike - not sure whether to say mad or congrats - first 3 hrs was lumpy enough with proper bars and gears to work with! Dave S

  4. Dawn, I think that was Andy you spoke to coming down Hardknott Pass!! :-)

    1. Probably was...I was going about 2 mph (downhill) with my brakes fully deployed, hoping they wouldn't heat up and quit working entirely!

  5. Nice blog, great ride well done.