Jayne Secker: Coast to coast cycle challenge raises just shy of £5k for Grace House
Despite the weeks of training I was slightly terrified as day one of our epic cycle dawned.
From the blustery beach at Workington 10 off us set off eastwards into the bright morning sunshine.
It wasn’t long before we started to climb. Winlatter Pass was our first challenge - steep and sharp as the sun blazed down.
But it was after lunch in Keswick that the real slog began. The wind picked up and we had to scale Hartside Pass. It was gruelling. A slow climb into a headwind. Do people really do this for fun? There were amazing views back over the route we had taken, but we were starting to lose the light. I really wanted to get off and push but sheer bloody mindedness - and the encouragement of those cycling alongside - kept me going to the top, 45 minutes behind the first to reach it.
The relief and sense of achievement was immense. But there was not long to savour the moment as we had to make it down to Alston before dark.
I don’t think I have ever eaten as many energy giving jelly sweets in one day.
Day two and we awoke to steady drizzle. We ploughed on from Cumbria briefly into Northumberland and on into County Durham.
As I had trained alone it was such a treat to cycle alongside others. They were such a kind and fun team. It was great to hear what had motivated them to do the challenge, and we all pulled together helping those struggling (usually me).
By mid morning we reached the summit of Black Hill – the highest point on the C2C – but the biggie was to come. Crawleyside is hard enough to negotiate in a car, but on two wheels it is nigh on impossible. Crawl up it we did, as the rain continued to beat down.
It was undoubtedly the hardest point of the challenge and cresting the summit was far more emotional than I could have imagined.
Our final descent was along the old Derwent Valley Railway, down into Birtley – catching a glimpse of angel of north – and finally, past a basking seal in the River Wear onto the finish at the seafront at Roker.
We were all soaked and shattered but elated.
To anyone considering such a challenge I would say just go for it. I saw the beauty of the region from a new perspective and had a lot of fun along the way.
The cycle also reminded me how very lucky I am to have the abilities to do things that so many of us take for granted.
Things like learning to ride a bike are important milestones in childhood, but for a lot of the children using Grace House it’s a skill they will never master. But thanks to the centre and it’s amazing staff, these children – without the same abilities as most – are still able to gain new experiences and skills and are achieving so much.
It is for them that I completed this challenge and it is also on their behalf that I thank all of you who have sponsored so far. between us the team have raised just shy of a whopping five thousand pounds.