Adventure of any time of life

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Adventure is a term that we normally associate with the young, writes Caroline Green of Wetherby U3A.

The truth is that you can have adventures at any age; it is a state of mind, not just a state of age.

Four of the regular cyclists with the U3A Cycling Group decided last winter that they would take on their own challenge. The four had a combined age of 300 but this did not phase them. This is the account from two of the riders about the Coast-to-Coast cycle ride, from Whitehaven to Tynemouth.

Ken said: “I have never ridden a three-day event before, so I was feeling nervous. I have always felt nervous before any sporting event, even a game of football.

“There were to be four of us riding and we were to meet at The Hilton, Gateshead/Newcastle on Monday May 20 and then on the Tuesday we would be transported, with our bikes and kit, to the start point in Whitehaven. The weather was excellent, not too hot, a clear sky and a Westerly (following) wind. Once we were rolling the nerves vanished, and we arrived safely in Penrith.

“Wednesday was to be the hardest day; a lot of climbing. Some of the hills are particularly fierce, so we were very happy to finish the day in Stanhope in good time.

“For me, it turned that Thursday was the hardest day. I had not slept well and was feeling somewhat ill. I was open with my three team members and we discussed the probable cause. Best diagnosis was that, apart from not sleeping well, I was nervous about failing on the last day, and particularly fearful of the climb out of Stanhope. I didn’t eat a proper breakfast. It would have made me feel even more sick. It took an effort not to quit, but I felt that I could not let my team down.

“At one point on the worst of the uphill section we caught up with another team, this time of three, and one was walking like me. I chatted with him and discovered we were the same age and both of us were under the mistaken impression that we could still do what we did at 40!

“As an aside, my team heard one of their team complaining about the ‘old feller’ and how he ought to be put in a taxi and sent home. Despite me being the last man in our team, that is what we remained; a TEAM. I was encouraged on many occasions. We finished the ride and then we all felt better.

“Now, when I tell folk that I have ridden the Coast-to-Coast and they ask me, “Did you ride or walk?” I will be able to answer truthfully, “Yes.”

Phil added: “We left a sunny Whitehaven harbour, and initially the route climbed gently to the edge of the Lake District; the scenery and panoramic views were fabulous from the Solway Firth to the Lake District.

“Past Loweswater we refuelled before tackling Whinlatter Pass rewarding ourselves with a tea break in a sunny, warm and busy Keswick. A steep climb took us to the Castelrigg Stone Circle then an undulating ride to our overnight stay in Penrith.

“Our second day took us over four long and in places steep climbs to Stanhope in Weardale; Hartside pass is one of the longest climbs in England and in four miles we climbed over 1200ft to reach the 1903ft summit by the burnt out cafe; exposed and cold in a keen wind we enjoyed a rapid descent to lunch in Alston.

“Black Hill followed, at just over 2,000ft our highest point. Then, following another fast descent a shorter steeper climb from Allenheads to Rookhope, a fast descent and the final climb before the long drop into Weardale. Glorious sunshine all day, vast panoramas of moorland.

“From Stanhope we climbed Crawleyside, and then enjoyed the fast winding country lanes route to the River Tyne. The final 20miles followed the north bank of the river to Tynemouth. A super trip made so much more enjoyable by riding as group, supporting and encouraging each other.

“All in all, a great experience and thoroughly recommended; so, what we will we ride next?’

What does adventure mean to you? Could it be joining the U3A? www.wetherby&districtu3a.org.uk