A journey’s never over til it’s over: C2C Sunderland
A week after leaving the West Coast in Workington on our Winter Coast to Coast ride we were with reach of the East Coast near Sunderland. But a journey is never over until it’s over. And it’s not always when you expect it. But isn’t that the joy of adventuring.
Never over til it’s over
Eight miles from the end of the Coast to Coast C2C Sunderland route and I get a puncture. I never get punctures. Except when I’m near the end of a ride and it’s getting dark. I blame the grit of the North East; there’s a glass shard of it stuck in my tyre. And it’s not just the tyre that’s deflated, so too are my hopes of finishing the C2C today. Although I sense Stuart may not feel the same. He never gives up.
Does he never give up?
Puncture fixed we ride into Sunderland in the pitch black; pulling up at the Premier Inn; our hotel for the night. We’re out of repair patches now and Stuart notices an Argos store next door and insists we try and restock. How ridiculous with only four miles left to ride. While he browses through the catalogue for leeches and glue, the kids fill out forms requesting new Townsend Bikes and Boss Bikes. I love the naïve optimism they still have when it comes to their Dad.
“Must be a big Sunderland game tomorrow,” I say to Stuart after noting all the footie fans checking in. I’m worried about leaving the bikes outside the hotel. We’re only a mile or so from the Stadium of Light and the hotel staff have already mentioned security.
“We’re not leaving the bikes anywhere,” says Stuart. “We haven’t been to the sea yet.The ride isn’t over until we get to the sea.”
“But the kids have decamped. I think they’re already watching TV,” I say.
“Then get them out again, and we can get on our way.”
We start to have a row, which is in turn interrupted by a brawl. But it isn’t the football supporters; it’s our own kids who are having a punch up in the hotel lobby. One is standing on the other’s head and another is lying on the floor clasping her knee and screaming. Stuart pulls them off each other while the football supporters look on in shock.
“Right, that’s it. We’re not going to finish the ride tonight!” shouts Stuart. He thinks it’s a punishment, but I can tell the children are relieved. He forces them to make a public apology to the lady on reception, who slips them sweeties, and gives them the keys to two rooms, with their own bed, delicious white sheets and a TV. Stuart is the only one left fuming.
The final countdown
Sunderland is different in daylight and so are we. For only the second time this week the sun shines on our backs, and our moods are transformed. We hop on the bikes and follow a gentle cycle path taking us along the River Wear. “How will we know when we get there?” asks Hannah.
“We’ll see the sea, simple as that. It’s how we started and how we end this journey,” I say.
In fact we are looking for a lighthouse and a C, as well as the sea. The route ends near the Roker Lighthouse where a C shaped sculpture marks the end of the route. We see the lighthouse but unknowingly cycle straight past the sculpture. Down on the beach we dip our bike wheels and toes into the sea in a ceremony that is a mirror image of that performed at Workington. Well almost. This time Cameron is first in. Having made the leap from a boy who was unsure whether he could even get to the end of the first day, to the child who has led us over the mountains, his confidence is sky high.
You’ve got to dip your toes in to finish
“I’m not doing that,” says Hannah, who a week ago refused to dip her toes in at Workington. I reassure her she doesn’t need to. But she decides to play a game of chasing the wave and the wave wins. She wails about her wet feet all the way along the promenade.
We ask a local where the statue marking the end of the route might be, but he says he’s never heard of it. A few metres later we stumble across it. The information board says 15,000 a year do this route. Now it’s 15,005. We stick out heads through the C that marks the sea. It doesn’t look much like a C, but it’s no time to be picky. We can see a lighthouse. We have made it. We cycled from C2C. And it feels good.
Have you taken on a family challenge?
Do leave a comment and tell us about it.
See more of our Winter Coast to Coast (C2C) Photo Journals
- Are you a purist or not bothered?
- Day 1: Setting Out: Workington to Cockermouth
- Day 2: Northern Lakes: Over Whinlatter and into Keswick
- Day 3: In the Shadow of Blencathra: Keswick to Penrith
- Day 4: Goodbye Lakes, Hello Pennines: Penrith to Hartside Summit and Alston
- Day 5: Over the Pennines: Nenthead to Allenhead and onto Consett
- Day 6: Welcome to the North East: Consett to Beamish & Sunderland
- Day 7: The end of the ride: Along the Wear in Sunderland
We did this C2C ride across England, from Workington to Sunderland, as part of our Family Adventure Capital Season. We’re exploring different ways families can adventure together in and around Cumbria, sharing ideas and inspiration to encourage families to get out, get active and adventure together.<
Got some ideas for things we should try? Let us know.