Event number seven took place on the 5th June and it actually ended up being more challenging than I expected it to be.
We met at Hollingwood Hub on the Chesterfield Canal at 8.00 am. Thanks to Rod from the Trust for opening up the hub for us to use the car park and toilets. The team all got to know each other, a quick before photo and we set off on our way.
The first stretch was on the trails of the Cuckoo Way and the Trans Pennine Way. We quickly covered the ground to Killamarsh Station where we left the path to follow the route of the former canal through Killamarsh.
This was the part I had scouted out the week before. It is technical on a bike, lots of stiles to go through and the signage isn’t brilliant. We slowly worked our way through and after a short break for the first puncture of the day we headed out of Killamarsh towards the M1.
What I hadn’t accounted for was with 10 of us how much every gate, stile, lock, slows you down and across the 60 miles there were a lot of stiles!
As you come out of Killamarsh you head up hill through fields past the entrance to the old canal tunnel and then head down through Kiveton Woods before rejoining the Chesterfield Canal.
This stretch of the canal is really pretty, lots of locks and nice scenery along the way. We hit Worksop after about 2 hours around 15 miles in. This was where the pub was we were planning to return to for lunch.
The tow path through Worksop is good and quick and we clocked up a quick few miles and seemed to be doing well for time at this stage despite the endless on and off the bike for the stiles.
Then we hit the grass! Now I was on a cyclocross bike which had handled the tow paths and trails well, the others were on mountain bikes but I don’t think any of us found the next 5 or so miles fun or comfortable!
This was rutted path and grass and you felt every bump, it slowed the pace to around 5 miles an hour, that with another 2 punctures for the team from the hawthorn and we slowed considerably.
After what seemed like a lifetime the path improved and we started to speed up again, another puncture fixed and we were around a mile away from the half way point. The weather was scorching hot and we just wanted to get to the 30 mile point.
As was the nature of the day it wasn’t that simple and you wouldn’t have guessed that we would have faced this problem along the way. Blocking the path were two swans and their signets. A lot of hissing towards us but we decided we had to keep going past. As we did a few pecks at the wheels before they decided to head into the safety of the canal.
We had reached Retford and the 30 miles half way point. It was around 13.30 now and we were nowhere near our planned lunch stop.
So a short break, refills of the water bottles and we started to head back. Heading back past the swans who had another peck, past all the waterside pubs and people enjoying the hottest day of the year so far.
We experienced three of four more punctures before we got back to the dreaded grass. It wasn’t as bad on the way back mentally knowing what was coming helped. We finally reached the Lock Keeper at Worksop at 16.00 for lunch! A refuel of a tuna panini and chips and we knew we had 15 miles to go to complete the challenge. Over tea we decided we would divert through Rother Valley Country Park rather than the tricky route through Killamarsh.
I really enjoyed heading up the hill past all the locks, back under the M1 and down to Rother Valley. Heading into the park on the road allowed me to take advantage of my bike and get some speed up. Lots of people to avoid who were enjoying a sunny Sunday.
Back on the trail and 6 miles to go. It was pretty straight forward from there to the finish. We arrived back at just after 19.00. A real long day of 11 hours.
We completed 60.3 miles with a total cycling time of 6 hours 46 minutes.
It was a great day. Everyone worked brilliantly together to keep it fun and make sure everyone finished. Thank you to all the team for taking part and their fundraising support.
I think they enjoyed it as I believe plans are a foot to cycle the whole length and back in a day!