On Thursday 20th July, 16 cyclists set off from Blackpool Carers Centre on Newton Drive, Blackpool to cycle to Edinburgh in what was our 4th fundraising Cycle challenge…that’s 210 miles over 3 days!
Eleven dedicated riders have already taken part in our previous cycle challenges including last year’s Pier to Pier, they did an amazing job of encouraging the 5 new cyclists who joined us this year.
What a fantastic send-off we had from the Centre with the staff, volunteers, friends and cyclists’ families there to wave us off.
The first day of the challenge was the longest day in the saddle, with a planned route of 77 miles! We headed inland through Poulton and Cartford in some beautiful sunshine and on to our first stop at 17 miles which was The Barn at Scorton. We stopped for a brew, cake and ice cream before continuing our cycle to Beetham at 41 miles where we enjoyed lunch at The Wheatsheaf.
Another short cycle of 10 miles took us to the next water stop near Kendal where we were advised by our event organisers, Chapeau Events, to get sufficient water and snacks, as the next 26 miles were some of the most challenging, as we had to get over Shap and down to Penrith. What a view from the top of Shap and although it was quite windy and a hard ride uphill, the downhill was brilliant with some breath-taking views of the Lake District.
77 miles completed and a 4,355 ft climb.
Day 2 – Friday 21st July
We set off after a hearty breakfast at the Premier Inn in Penrith and all got separated and lost as we tried to navigate the best way out of Penrith. You have to see the funny side of it especially as the rain started and it was really heavy along with a strong wind! The first section was a climb and we hadn’t even had chance to warm up, but hey ho we kept going.
We cycled 19 miles to our first water stop and what a fantastic surprise, as Linda who completed the Pier to Pier challenge last year was there to greet us with her smile and words of encouragement and support, just what we needed. Linda said we had to look at Carlisle Castle as we left and what a beautiful sight it was. Leaving Carlisle we carried on and at 29 miles we reached the “Welcome to Scotland” sign and thankfully the weather had started to improve.
After a fantastic lunch of soup, sandwiches and chips we set off again and had some more hard climbs, not quite as long as Shap but some short and sharp hills which tested the legs and stamina of our cyclists.
We cycled through Ecclefeckan (love that name) and on to Lockerbie for our afternoon stop. This was at 45 miles, so just another 14 to go. After the water stop, we cycled the last of the 60 miles for today and made it to a pub in Beattock called The Old Stables to meet the rest of the cyclists. The beverages never tasted so good!
60 miles and a 2,384 ft climb.
Day 3 – Saturday 22nd July
A sense of excitement ran through the team today as this is the day we reached our goal, Edinburgh. Not the best start though as the weather was horrendous. Still, it is not a Blackpool Carers Cycle Challenge without getting extremely wet!
Off we went and within 5 minutes we were all soaked to the skin; not a dry spot on any of us. Navigating our way out of Beattock and through Moffat we started another long climb. This really did test some of the cyclists! The third day in the seat, 137 miles completed and knowing we had another 71 miles to do in horrible weather.
Visibility was difficult but we were optimistic as the weather in the afternoon promised to be good. The first cyclists arrived at the water stop and had to wake up the owner as he forgot we were coming! So funny, however he soon had the kettle on and a place where we could keep dry for a little while whilst we tried to warm up. This was where we had to wring out our socks as we were that wet.
Another 20 miles with some bumps in the road (yes hills) and the weather started to clear up a little. At 37 miles we stopped for lunch at Carnwath Golf Club. What a beautiful part of the world. After a great lunch and with the weather a little easier, we started to feel the excitement building. We only had 35 miles left of our challenge, the rain had stopped and the team were buzzing.
At 57 miles we stopped for our final water stop and the noise and excitement from the team was growing! 15 miles left to go and the cyclists were doing this bit together. We set off down the canal and this had to be the funniest part of the journey as we were on cobbles! This really tested everyone’s nerves as we got shaken and knocked about. We also had to navigate past joggers, other cyclists, dog walkers, horses and even a lady who was celebrating her birthday. Of course all of the cyclists stopped and sang happy birthday to her!
We left the canal path and hit the traffic but we could see Edinburgh castle and the adrenaline was pumping. What an amazing scene as we cycled in front of the Castle. Family, friends and all of the strangers on a busy Saturday stopped to cheer us in. Celebratory pictures and sprayed Champagne was how we ended the challenge. Oh! and a random lady from Leeds wanted a picture with us all as she had a mountain bike. 😂
The celebration meal in Edinburgh was a great way to end the 3 days, all telling funny stories and jokes about the last 3 days together with the awards handed out from Chapeau Events. Some of us went to bed after but the hard-core cyclists decided to go and enjoy an evening in Edinburgh and why not!
72 miles and 3,325 ft gain.
We are absolutely thrilled to announce that our cyclists have raised a gross figure of over £29,000 with a net figure of £14,000, which will provide support and respite for our carers.
Thank you to each cyclist that took on the challenge and to all their friends and family who supported them whilst they were training and helped them to raise their fundraising target. We could not do all that we do without our Corporate and Community fundraisers.
Roll on next year’s cycle ride…are you up for the challenge!
By Terry Hodkinson, Head of Business Development and Fundraising (and Cycle Challenge regular!)
If you would like to join us for our 2024 challenge, please contact Terry on 01253 393748 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.