My brother has often challenged me to competitions in which I have no hope of beating him. That makes him an arse. I usually accept. That makes me an arse.
There was the time he challenged me to an arm wrestling contest in which he claimed he could beat me using just one finger …
There was the time — actually, I have no idea what’s happening here, but I doubt I was winning …
And the less said about Go Ape the better …
At the end of 2013, he asked me if I wanted to do the C2C (sea to sea) bike ride. I said, ‘sure,’ without really thinking about it. A couple of months passed and then he — and some other friends — were talking to me about it as though I’d actually agreed to it. I mean, I did say yes, but surely he should have realised that I actually meant ‘no, that sounds tiring — I’ll just sit and eat this bag of foam bananas instead.’
With all the chatter, I thought I’d better at least take a look at what I’d agreed to do.
The C2C starts in the former coal mining and industrial lands of West Cumbria, travels through the stunning scenery of the northern Lake District and heads into Keswick before passing through Penrith and the Eden Valley with its lush valleys and sandstone villages. It then starts the climb up to Hartside and onto the unspoilt Northern Pennines – the roof of England. There then follows an undulating ride as the C2C meanders through old lead mining villages, such as Nenthead and Rookhope, and down into the Durham Dales before entering the old steel town of Consett. From here it’s an easy ride through one of Britain’s old industrial heartlands to the North Sea and Sunderland.
As it turns out — at 147 miles, and taking into account a few seriously hard climbs — it’s actually not so bad. That said, the highest climb — the Hartside Pass — is around two-thousand feet and goes on for over five miles, and features at the top the UK’s highest café — The Hartside Café. Apparently, all but the most determined cyclists find that they have to slide down from their saddle and push for at least part of the climb.
So, that sounds swell.
There are several of us doing this, and we’ve all decided on some charities for whom we’d like to raise a few quid. My chosen charity is the Anthony Nolan Trust. They’re a pretty amazing blood cancer charity and have set up a bone marrow register. If you haven’t heard of them, I strongly recommend checking out some of the work they do — the bone marrow register itself has the potential to save/improve/extend a lot of lives.
If you’re between the ages of sixteen and thirty, I think it would be a pretty incredible thing to get your name down on that register. I was all set to do exactly that, until I saw the upper age limit made me ineligible (shut your mouth). Registering to be a bone marrow donor is so easy these days – you don’t even need to leave your house. Just register online with Anthony Nolan, they’ll send you out a ‘spit kit’ (if you’re not sold just on that name, then I don’t know what it’s going to take) in the post. You spit. You seal. You send.
Then, one day, you might be asked to do something really fucking brilliant for somebody.
If all that sounds like it might be a bit too much — and I do understand if it does — then just chuck me a few quid on my Justgiving page instead. The money goes to the fine ladies and gents at Anthony Nolan who will use it to do some amazing things.
Meanwhile, I’d better get in training, because I swear I am not spending 147 miles looking at my brother’s fat ass dancing smugly in the saddle in front of me.