Team OFARC were not present at Oulton on 12 July as two of their drivers were racing something else. Dax Ward and Dan Levy decided it would be a rather good idea to take part in “The Crossing” organised by Rat Race events. They would be riding mountain bikes across the north of England in a coast to Coast event with a few differences.
Dax was riding this for cancer research and his donation page is still open for any donations. www.justgiving.com/daxvthecrossing www.justgiving.com/daxvthecrossing
The event was mostly off road, and was the traditional route. It started on Friday and had to be completed Sunday, ending in Scarborough after 202 hard miles which included vertical climbs each day of over 2000m
Here’s Dax’s account of the agony and the ecstasy…
Day 1 Whitehaven to Shap
350 people started in Whitehaven, Cumbria by dipping their wheels in the sea. There were 10 of us in our group, one was the support van driver which in the heat of the weekend was so important, as every 10-15 miles we needed to refill our water supplies to keep hydrated. We set off at 6am and had made it to the halfway point by 10am. I stupidly thought we would be in camp by 4pm, but I soon realised 2 hours later when we were pushing our bikes up one of the mountains by Ulswater that it would be a very late finish. 13 hours after the start we rolled into Shap. We had ridden for 8 hours and had various food and hydration stops on the way. Hydration stops for water, much to my disgust. It was a tough day and we were all very quiet and taken back with the challenge that lay ahead. 69 miles done.
Day 2 Shap to Northallerton
Day 1 had taken its toll on the whole field; I think there were 30 drop outs with various things. Broken shoulders, arms, teeth missing, dehydration, and broken bikes. It was a gruelling first day. We got away just with tiredness and one broken chain. We had to again climb rutted trails with boulders moving under our feet whilst carrying bikes on our backs in temperatures that hit 30 C. I drank over 20L of water this day and then got an injury to my right knee. It turned out to be the start of tendonitis, which would not go away until I rested it for a few days. I dosed myself with drugs and gels and pushed on. I did make my wish and get into a pub but it was only to fill up my water pack as our support driver had fallen ill and had gone to the overnight camp to rest. We rolled into North Allerton at 4pm and promptly collapsed. Another 69 miles done.
Day 3 Northallerton to Scarborough.
The final day, which turned into the worst day. I set off and my knee was in agony. I had to warm it up and it was tough going. By 15 miles in and another bike carry on the back the pain had eased. Only another 45 miles to go. This route crossed over 5 valleys, so every time you went up you knew there was a nice down but a horrible up the other side. It was tough going. The heat was bearing down on us again and we made the 32 mile mark by just after 1pm. I said to the guys it would be at best another 7pm finish with all these hills, exhaustion and the relentless heat and hills. The food lifted us and we had 28 to go, so 19 miles until we were in single figures. We had two more water stops and suddenly we could see the sea. 4 miles later we had made it, 64 miles done and 202 in total. One puncture and one broken chain, not bad considering all the bikes had covered over 1800 miles.
It was physically the hardest thing I have done, Dan Levy will also agree. It so nearly broke us all but we kept plugging away and we made it. Also we all finished in the top 140 out of 350, a very respectable result.
Please remember if you would like to donate anything to Cancer Research then please do support me at www.justgiving.com/daxvthecrossing .
The support vehicle
Rest and recuperation