As if climbing the three biggest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland wasn't hard enough, our intrepid ambassador Lucas and his friend Jake decided to cycle the 430 miles in between them. Managing to pick the only five days of rain in the British heatwave, he put Beeline to the test. We're in total awe!
This is a guest blog. The full version can be found here.
Leaving the office to catch the train to Snowdon for the beginning of our Three Peaks ride, I was weirdly nervous, fumbling and dropping things all over the place. Thankfully this subsided when I finally got the bags mounted on the bike and headed off to Euston to catch the train to Bangor. When we rocked up at the bunkhouse it was deserted and empty which was a little eerie, but we bedded down anyway and got some much needed sleep before the next day's epic efforts to come.
Day 1 began at 06:15 with a surprisingly steep but thankfully short climb up to the beginning of the Miners Track that we would be heading up Snowdon on. Having eaten nothing for dinner or breakfast I completely bonked in the first two miles and had to push... this did not bode well! Arriving at Pen-Y-Pass we stashed our bikes behind the Tourist Centre and after buying a load of flapjack and Tango to get some energy into us we set off, about an hour later than we had hoped too. The walk up was fairly uneventful, pretty nice weather until we got near the summit when we were engulfed by cloud (which was to become a summit theme...) Full of early trip enthusiasm, we decided to go up the Miners Track and did almost get lost due to us being spanners and deciding we didn't need a map... we went down a slightly shorter and easier to follow route back into the Pen-Y-Pass car park. The whole endeavour took 3 hours 5 mins which stole back the time we had lost faffing and a bit extra which was a bonus.
When we were within a couple of miles of the campsite the Beeline decided we could do with a final off road piece just to spice things up. That tackled we rolled into Hidden Corner, handed over our cash and went to pitch up.
Jake pitched his tent got in and went to sleep. I put up my tarp and got into my bivvy bag and sleeping bag and attempted the same. However as I had bought a dirt cheap tarp from Amazon at the last minute it flapped like a bastard and I couldn't sleep... about 01:00 I gave up and decamped into the toilet block and got a few hour's decent shut eye... The second day started at 06.15 with my alarm, the sun shining through the toilet window and the alarmed face of the Irish bloke who just wanted a shower stumbling over my feet.
Today would be our first taste of the proper rain that was to be our constant companion for this trip. At times this morning the rain got so hard it genuinely hurt our faces and by the time we decided to call time for some food we were a tiny bit grumpy with the whole thing. With the entire country having spent the last two weeks being baked by an unusually hot summer we had picked seemingly the only bloody week that it was going to rain!
We set off to push on to Great Langdale, our stop for the evening where I had booked us into the bunkhouse as we were planning a pretty late night. The weather brightened occasionally on the ride and by the time we were rolling into the Lakes it was bordering on an almost nice day.
We pulled into Great Langdale around 16:00 and after a swift chat confirmed our decision to head up Scafell that evening to give ourselves an 'easy' day the next day. This necessitated the purchase of a map and a few chats with local knowledgeable bar staff; one of whom (I won't say who in case he gets in trouble!) said he would keep the pub open until we returned, which was music to our ears.
We hit the summit at 20:30 (bang on sunset) after the weather took an inevitable turn for the worse and took a quick selfie that looked much like our last summit selfie. By this point we were pretty tired, having been on the go for 14 hours and with a 2 1/2 hour climb back down in the gathering dark ahead of us.
On the route down the weather was suspiciously kind to us and we made it a decent way until having to rely on our torches from about 22:00 onwards. It was one of the more atmospheric walks I've ever done; there is something about moving through the wilderness at night that feels a little different and special. We spotted a glowing tent by the side of one of the tarns on the way back that looked incredibly cosy.
After finally making it to the bikes we hopped on and nipped the final mile back to Great Langdale and the waiting comfort of the bunkhouse. We stuck our heads in the door of the pub, mainly to let the guy know we were still alive, but also to try and grab a beer and, though it had technically called last orders as it was 22:45 by this point, he let us have a takeaway beer (for Jake) and cider (for me) that went down amazingly well as we sat on our bunks. Then we passed out.
Neither of us were hugely keen to roll out of the actual beds in the bunkhouse and get back on our bikes for more punishment but by 07:30 we had managed to summon up the mental fortitude to get moving. With a number of sections over 15% and nearly 2500ft of climbing over the morning we probably weren't quite as prepared as we thought we were... We finally coasted to a welcome stop 30 miles in with a fun descent taking us into the car park of the Sour Nook Inn. With its remarkably unappetising name it thankfully turned out to be a lovely little country pub.
The 30 mile section that followed was one of the most beautiful few hours on a bike I have ever experienced. The weather was warm, but not too warm and we were comfortable and well fed with a good stash of snacks. It also helped that it was mostly downhill to our next stop. The only hiccup was having to wait seemingly forever at a level crossing.
This was also the section of the ride where we crossed into the third and final country of the trip, which felt pretty bloody good!
Today hurt, today was cold, today nearly broke us.
A mere 15 miles in and things were going from bad to worse; Jake was debilitatingly cold all over and both of our feet had gone entirely numb, a cruel mixture of vibrations from the shockingly paved roads, the continuous rain and more obviously the low temperature. I assume lack of sleep and physical fatigue were also playing their part. This necessitated a stop for hot food and coffee so we ground to a halt in the little village of Abington.
On arrival in the village we threw ourselves on the mercy of a very helpful elderly lady who told us that the local Post Office did hot rolls and coffee. This Post Office also happened to be no more than ten metres from where we were standing which was brilliant. Lurching inside on numb feet and after a few pitying looks from the husband and wife team who ran the place we had ordered coke, black coffee and for me a bacon, sausage, egg and black pudding roll and a veggie version for Jake (whose helmet I had to unclip as his fingers had stopped working). I half remembered an idea, I think from a GCN video, on what to do for cold and wet feet. Cling film. The couple at the Post Office kindly let us have as much as we wanted for free and after I bought us some size six women's thermal socks to replace our soaking cycling socks, we wrapped our newly warm and dry feet in the cling film and squelched them back into our shoes.
The next stint was surprisingly comfortable considering the weather, though I think that was mainly in comparison to the first 15 miles and the unfettered joy of being able to feel my toes. We ended up pushing on a little further than we had planned to take us into Glasgow and into the warm embrace of McDonald's golden arches. This was probably my lowest ebb of the whole ride; I felt wiped out and all I wanted to do was lie down and stop. Thankfully Jake had bounced back and so was able to buoy my mood with coffee and some gels from the Tesco over the road.
Most of the next stint, from Glasgow to Inverarnan, was very nearly pancake flat. The gels and caffeine had kicked in and we found ourselves on National Cycle Route 7 which, by and large, was bloody brilliant (and helpfully easy to follow as my phone charging cable, not being waterproof, was now buggered). A highlight of this section was the serendipitous moment when my fiancée, Rosie, and her friend, Nicola, saw us cycling along as they headed up to join us for the final climb on Nevis the next day. They motored ahead and positioned themselves on the cycle route for a few hugs and a much needed morale boost.
Arriving into Crianlarich was an absolutely glorious feeling, particularly as Dad had made us an offer we (or more correctly... I) couldn't refuse; earlier in the day while we were sat in the Post Office in Abington he offered to book us a room in any hotel at our end point for the day... Jake had a genuine moral quandary about accepting the offer whereas minutes later I texted Dad back accepting. As I said at the start, today nearly broke me.
We had beers in hand by the time Rosie and Nicola rocked up shortly afterwards; we went through for dinner looking like a very motley crew. I'm sure Jake and I were terrible company that evening but the girls were on good form and definitely raised our spirits (and bought us spirits in the form of some very nice whiskey).
Whiskey drunk, we crumbled into bed with only one more day to go.
Day 5 dawned and brought with it some cracking weather; it looked like we would have a beautiful final 53 miles to Nevis. The first 30 miles of today included four categorised climbs which was fun... three Cat 4's and one Cat 3. These took a hefty toll on our average speed and remaining energy reserves, but a highlight was the spontaneous applause from a woman parked up taking photos. The route we took north out of the Trossachs and up to the Bridge of Orchy was mind bogglingly beautiful. The ride this day will remain in my memory for a long time and is one I am very keen to repeat; probably when I'm a little fresher though.
The feeling of dismounting for the final time on the trip and looking up to see Nevis was surprisingly muted, though that may have more to do with the hunger we were both feeling by this point. After finding our bunks and stashing the bikes and our kit we settled into the Inn for a big lunch to set us up for the climb. Midway through eating Rosie and Nicola joined us to complete the foursome who would tackle the UK's highest peak together.
The views were characteristically stunning and for Rosie who had never 'done' Nevis before she was enthralled at every turn as we inched higher and higher. As we were reaching just over the halfway point we stumbled across some European hikers (unsure on nationality as they didn't talk much) who had a Bluetooth speaker in their bag and were cracking out some brilliant tunes, including a rendition of Come on Eileen that we all sang along to. Unfortunately they were a little faster than us and so we only got the morale boosting music for four or five songs until they were out of earshot.
After this we set a more relaxed pace to the summit; my knee by this point was being a bit of a bastard. On hitting the summit we clambered up the cairn with the plaque on top for the third and final summit photos of the trip. Taking a moment to rest I was overheard by a friend, John, who was also climbing Nevis that day, but who I assumed had been a shed load faster than us and so we would meet for a pint at the base. A cheeky photo and a round of introductions later we began the trip down the mountain and to the finish line.
The less said about the rest of that descent the better but as the Inn came into sight I felt my spirits lift. Finally pushing through the gate at the end of the path into the Inn's car park, I don't think either of us could quite believe we'd actually done it. We looked at each other feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves and feeling the relief wash over us and hugged it out.
All that was left were showers, food, beer, whiskey and finally bed.
£1,265 raised for charity
0 punctures (somehow!)