A different sort of bikepacking challenge

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Ian
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A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Ian » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:29 pm

Quick recap - 4 years ago I took my Dad's 1949 Raleigh Sport in a very poor condition, completely renovated it and presented it to him as a gift. (pictures on my Insta feed: before and after) Recounting the event to a friend recently, he commented "What do you give a 77 year old as a present? You give him his youth back!".

Dad's now 81, but I'm pleased to say he still rides the Raleigh. While he has youthful spirit, his youthful fitness is waning now and he does need a bit of a push up the longer hills (not helped by the ridiculously high gearing on the bike). Anyway, he said recently that he would like to do a pilgrimage from Carlisle (where he now lives) to Holy Island on the opposite side of the country. A variation on a coast to coast, if you will.

I'm really keen to help him achieve this, and to do so by entirely self-sufficient means. However, this does pose a fair few questions around logistics;
I don't know how far is reasonable for him to ride in a day. We did 15 miles one afternoon recently, so I figure 30 miles per day might be OK if you take in cafes and such along the route. Low traffic routes preferred, but some easy flat gravel would be OK.
Gradients are a concern - the bike isn't set up for hills really, and I don't have the option of popping a smaller chainring on it or swapping the rear cassette out for a wide range one... What's the optimum route between the two places that avoids too many hills (not withstanding needing to get over the Cheviots at some point)?
The brakes on the bike are awful, and I find the prospect of him hurtling down the hills with a potential stopping distance measured in furlongs quite terrifying
I think it's realistic to be doing B&B's, rather than bivvying or camping, but that forces to achieve x miles to a pre-booked overnight venue.
We also need to get back - I figure the train is hte best option, once we've made it back west to the nearest station.

I wasn't sure whether to post this in the Routes forum or not, as suggests for routes are very much welcome as I don't know Northumberland that well. Any thoughts or considerations for the rest of it also welcome - as I say in the thread title, it presents a different sort of challenge.

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whitestone
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by whitestone » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:49 pm

An interesting one.

Holy Isle is some way north of Carlisle so I'd look at going Carlisle - Longtown - Newcastleton - Hawick - Kelso - Coldstream - Holy Isle. There's one large hill between Newcastleton and Hawick. Once at Hawick you are basically following the Tweed to Coldstream then there's a gentle hill over to the A1 and then down to Holy Isle.

Nearest station is Berwick, NCN 1 from Holy Isle to there but it's a bit sandy in places. Train from Berwick to Edinburgh then Carlisle. You could go via Newcastle but the service from there to Carlisle is limited to 2 bikes per train with no booking that I could determine.
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dlovett
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by dlovett » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:56 pm

How about hiring him an ebike for the trip, or does he just want to do it on that bike?

If he is willing to ride one it would make your planning much easier.

quimarche
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by quimarche » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:57 pm

If you don't mind a detour via Newcastle then I can recommend the NCN 72 from Carlisle to Newcastle, and the NCN 1 from Newcastle to Holy Island. The former is flat at the start and end, but with a big climb at Once Brewed. The latter is pretty much flat, not once getting over 300'. Lots of accommodation along the way, scenic and quiet.

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:06 pm

Can't help with route suggestions but what a great idea :-bd
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PaulB2
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by PaulB2 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:15 pm

One option is to take a sustrans route the entire way - Hadrian's Cycleway (NCN72?) goes through Carlisle in the direction of Newcastle. If time is of no concern I'd go on that to Tynemouth and then up the coastal route (NCN1) - longer than it needs to be but mostly paved and mostly goes through populated areas with plenty of opportunities for B&Bs. The shorter lumpier option would be leave NCN72 at the junction with NCN68 and then head up through the national parks to Wooler and then hop over on country roads to Holy Island.

Edit: quimarche beat me to it.

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Borderer
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Borderer » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:33 pm

I have been following a page on Facebook where they are waymarking a new route that might work, at least for part of the journey. Search up reivers cycle route on FB or have a look at https://www.tedliddle.uk/

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Ian
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Ian » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:14 pm

There's some really helpful suggestions here, thanks.

Stu - initially it seemed daunting, but if we don't do it, I know I'm going to regret not trying.

Duncan - there's a sentimental attachment to the bike for both of us. He would like to ride it, and I would very much like to see it ridden.

Bob / Quimarche / PaulB2 - I'd sort of ruled out Newcastle as it was so far south - as Bob points out, Holy Isle is further north than you'd think. But I haven't looked at routing northwards into Scotland, hopign there'd be something inbetween. It would be nice to follow some of the historic Roman features and that aspect gives a good route out of Cumbria - while that might entail more traffic, there are more provisions for cafes and accommodation.

Borderer - that's a helpful link thanks. I always wondered where the Sandstone Way was, and that might be useful for inspriation if nothing else as a hybrid with NCN 72 and then turn north.

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Lazarus » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:09 pm

there's a sentimental attachment to the bike for both of us. He would like to ride it, and I would very much like to see it ridden.
Could you view it as the two of you taking the bike there and you ride the harder stuff on it then you have both done your bit?

Lovely story though, very heartwarming

Best of luck

Pickers
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Pickers » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:22 pm

Edit... Read the spec 1st
Last edited by Pickers on Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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whitestone
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by whitestone » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:24 pm

The best bits of Roman remains are those along the wall either side of Housesteads - look at the OS map and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was military camp central (which it probably was back in the day). The main problem is it's a big climb out from the Tyne valley to get there, short and steep from Greenhead (NCN 72 does this steep bit) or a bit longer and not quite as steep via NCN 68 from further down the Tyne at Redburn. The other problem is that the B6318 that runs along there is dead straight and prone to fast traffic.

If you did go that way then I'd possibly look at following NCN 68 through Bellingham to Wooler then take the B6525 to Bowsden where the line of hills between Wooler and the coast fades out and you've an easy ride to Holy Isle.
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Ian
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Ian » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:13 pm

whitestone wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:24 pm
If you did go that way then I'd possibly look at following NCN 68 through Bellingham to Wooler then take the B6525 to Bowsden where the line of hills between Wooler and the coast fades out and you've an easy ride to Holy Isle.
Thanks Bob, I've just plotted a route that has done pretty much that. I've avoided the B6318 by heading north on a short gravel section of the NCN 68 between Once Brewed and Stonehaugh - does anyone know what this is like?

Overall, its 182 km over 4 days with no more than 700 m ascent on any particular day and some of that is sufficiently short / sharp, it could be a pleasant enough push. Need to research B&B's and cafes and such like now.

Having plotted a route, it's of a distance where I could give it a test run on my own in a day (albeit a long one). Planning the pilgrimage for around Easter time next year, so I've got time to test it before then.

Lazarus' suggestion for me to ride the Raleigh on the tough bits is a darn good idea - I hadn't thought of that - thanks!

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by ozboz » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:39 pm

Cracking idea , I’d like to think my Son would do similar for me one day , there’s still time I’m only 66 ! , if you could , after the event put the route up I’d be very interested to have a gandy at it , I plan to do this route but the other way , Holy Island to St Bees ,
Have a great Venture with your Dad , top restoration to!
😉

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Pirahna » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:57 am

Brilliant, and you're lucky to have your dad fit enough to even think about doing this at 81.

I Google'd a 1949 Raleigh Sport, it doesn't look very sporty. Can you fit a larger sprocket on the back?

Taylor
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Taylor » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:27 am

The route from once brewed to stonehaugh is great but is quite rough in places the first half of the off road section is smallish gravel but the second half of it would pretty tough for your dad. I felt quite jarred on the descent to coldcotes.

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Ian
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Ian » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:56 am

Thanks Taylor - useful info.

Pirhana - It has a 3 speed Sturmey Archer with overdrive, thereby giving it 6 gears. Cutting edge for 1949 :-bd

Ozboz - yes, me too. Plan is to take my two kids as well and make it a three-generational ride.

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:17 am

Ian, you should be able to get a larger cog for the SA to lower the gearing if need be.
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Ian
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Ian » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:06 am

Is the fitting likely to have stayed the same for 70 years? :o

That said, I can hunt around for vintage versions.

I do have a different crank with a smaller 44t ring on it, but I would need to change the cottered bb axle to accommodate it. If you think modern BB standards are complicated, the world of cottered cranks and bb’s is similar.

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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:09 am

Is the fitting likely to have stayed the same for 70 years?
This is SA so probably. The modern ones are held in place with a wire clip and have 3 little location ears. SJS is a good starting point.
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slarge
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Re: A different sort of bikepacking challenge

Post by slarge » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:31 pm

Ian, I have a 5 speed SA hub with a double cog on the back. Can bring it to bb200 if you want to borrow it. Needs 2 levers to operate it (it’s off my 1938 tandem, but I think it’s 1950’s hub.
Great idea, wish my dad was of similar ilk but 4 days with him would be tough.

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