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All Points North 2021

All Points North 2021

When the opportunity to ride a 600 mile back-packing race around the north of England arose, Rupert jumped at the chance to #rideupnorth.

The ‘race’ consisted of starting and finishing in Sheffield. Riders set off from ‘A Different Gear’ bike shop on Saturday 4th September at 8pm, with the challenge of riding to 10 control points spread around the north of England, returning to event HQ at the Heely Centre for a finisher’s meal at 8pm on Tuesday 7th September, this was curry so there was no way he wasn’t going to miss it! Riders had to plan their own route around the checkpoints and could either ride solo, or as a pair. Once out on the road, riders had to be completely self-sufficient and were not able to accept support from anyone.

Words by Rupert Robinson

Photos by Markus Stitz

The Route

I’d spent many hours choosing my route between checkpoints, looking at the elevation to see which was flattest and building these onto Komoot, going down every road on Google Maps to see where I could sleep each night. I decided to go anti-clockwise and chose the 10 checkpoints in the following order:

1. Beverley North Bar.
2. Reivaulx.
3. Runswick Bay.
4. Upper Coquetdale.
5. Grassholme.
6. Honiston Pass.
7. Silverdale.
8. Dent Station.
9. Malham Tarn.
10. Leeds Pal Memorial.

I chose ‘Beverley North Bar’ first as this was flattest and somewhat close to where I grew up, so the familiarity appealed to me as I’m originally from York, I knew I would be riding through the night to Reivaulx Abbey, then on to Runswick Bay via Rosedale across the North York Moors.

Day & Night

I made good time, arriving at checkpoints 1, 2 and 3 at 23:50, 02:50 and 06:11 respectively, being rewarded with seeing the sunrise on the east coast of England.

The next checkpoint was Upper Coquetdale which I thought would be a good 6-7 hour ride north, which I reached at 4.22pm, taking 3 hours longer than I expected. At this point I’d been riding for 20 hours and was thinking about getting some rest, but I wanted to get out of the Military Firing Range of this area before nightfall. I travelled back south to Grassholme, Barnard Castle area after a further 75 miles, arriving at 12.46am. I was really feeling tired now because I’d been riding for around 29 hours, completing approx. 320 miles (510kms).

I decided to treat myself to 2 hours sleep, so I set an alarm on my phone and lied down next to my bike, covering my face from the midges. I managed 40 minutes before waking up freezing cold, so I gave up trying to sleep, put my long sleeved Gabba on over my short sleeved, with a high viz top and set off again, knowing the climb out of the reservoir would warm me up quickly.

Lake District

Next stop would be checkpoint 6 at Honiston Pass in the Lake District, an area I know well from family holidays near Keswick, but I also know the start is a beast of a climb, with over 25% gradient, meaning I’d need to zig-zag up with 400 miles in the legs!

I reached the slate mine for the checkpoint at just after 7am on Monday 6th, with most of the ride across from Grassholme in, luckily, the only rain of the race. I headed back through Keswick, down to Ambleside for breakfast, then south past Windermere.

40 Hours & a Sore Botty

My next stop was to be on the west coast of the country at Silverdale, covering 450 miles (724km) as a result, arriving at 12:25pm.

From here, I really thought I could do the next 3 checkpoints whilst it was still light, hoping to get back to Sheffield in the early hours of the morning, meaning I don’t have to ride through the night again, as I was starting to hallucinate quite badly last night. The day was fine, the miles ticked by, but I was becoming more and more uncomfortable on the saddle, due to some serious saddle soars forming from getting wet as well as the 40 hours of continuous riding, that I was now having to stand up a lot of the time.

Yorkshire Dales

Dent Station was checkpoint 8 and I ticked this one off at 3.30pm after climbing another +25% gradient to the station. What an effort that was!

Once this was done it was across to Malham Tarn, through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which was not flat, arriving at this checkpoint at 5.42pm.

My confidence of completing checkpoints in daylight had now faded, I was deciding whether to stop and rest before dark, or continue on to the last checkpoint, effectively ticking everything off and powering through to the finish, which mentally felt like the best idea.

Buzz Lightyears & Grannies

I reached Leeds Pal Memorial at 9.42pm, breathing a sigh of relief because the end was in sight and I had technically finished. After 50 hours and 530 miles (852 kms) covered, only 80 miles remain.

I hadn’t paid any attention to the route I’d planned back to HQ in Sheffield, I was distraught when I saw how much climbing was left. Why hadn’t I given this any time?! Normally, I’d be quite confident that I could cover this distance in about 5 hours, but after all the miles and with the limited energy I had remaining, it took me 10 hours! I was so fatigued, I went the wrong way back down the route 5 miles before realising, adding 10 unnecessary miles at 3am, due to going off-route to find food at a 24-hour garage.

With a mixture of Buzz Lightyears and Grannies at every turn, I was somewhat relieved when the sun came up, a few more hours and I’d be done.

Hug Time

I didn’t realise I was in Sheffield until I rode past the station, which seemed familiar, having been there 5 days earlier. In my haste to get to the finish I went round the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill multiple times as I just couldn’t work any of the route out.

I climbed to the finish just after 8am on Tuesday, with an overall time of 60 hours and 16 minutes. 621 miles covered (999kms) and 50,163 feet of climbing (15,289 m), I had finished in 9th place – job done! Now it was time to get some sleep but not until I’d had a brew with my wife who was waiting to greet me at the finish, along with a handful of others.

Superb adventure! Although I was completely ruined, I will definitely be back next year if I can!

Bike Specifications

Kinesis GTD V2 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8070.
Thomson Bars & Stem.
Profile T2+ DL Aerobars.
Repente Quasar Saddle.
Continental GP5000s 28’s.
Sector R26 Wheelset with Son Dynamo and Busch & Muller headlight/rear light/USB Charging.
Lezyne Macro Pro 800XL.
Apidura Racing Top Tube Pack.
Kinesis Fend Offs.
Tailfin Carbon Rack & Top Trunk Bag.
Lezyne Flow Bottles & Lezyne Matrix Team Cages.
Lezyne Flow Caddy with Lezyne Matrix Levers.
Lezyne Mega XL GPS.
Lezyne Carbon Drive Lite Pump with Insulation tape wrapped around it.
Kinesis 4 Seasons Reflective Bar Tape.

Kit Bag

Aftershokz Headphones with podcasts/playlists.
Charging cables.
ProViz Gilet.
Re-usable zip ties.
Alpkit Bivvy Bag.
3 x Inner Tubes.
Gore Shake Dry.
Castelli Gabba – 1 x long Sleeve & 1 x short sleeve.
Castelli Arm & Leg Warmers.
2 x Castelli Shorts.
Poc Mitts/Helmet/Glasses.
Dexshell Thermfit Gloves.
M4/M5 allen key.
Various foods including OTE bars/gels.

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