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Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr’s All Points North Adventure

Written by Nadia Kerr, Partner & Serious Injury Solicitor

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North AdventureBike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North AdventureBike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

June 12, 2024

Written by Partner & Senior Cycling Solicitor, Nadia Kerr.  

Between 22nd  and 28th  May 2024, I took part in an ultra-endurance self-supported bike challenge called All Points North (APN). Starting in Sheffield at 11am on Wednesday 22nd May, I cycled a total of 1060km (664 miles), visiting 10 checkpoints across the north – see map below for the locations of the checkpoints and my route. In this event, you decide on the route you want to take to visit the checkpoints and you plot it yourself.  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

In the UK we had enjoyed a lovely few days of weather the week before APN but on 21st  May when I was finishing up at work, the headline landed: ‘Lancashire ‘danger to life’ weather warning as 54 hours of rain to batter region……’ 

And so, my story follows …………… 

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

All Points North is a very special event for me. In 2022 I took part and rode in a pair after one of those conversations where a friend says “Hey, I have seen this event and I think it would be great” and I say “yes, I am in.” This is a common feature in my life. We had an overwhelmingly good and positive experience and decided that in 2023 we would ride it again but this time as solo riders. Sadly, life events for me meant I was not able to take part in 2023 but my friend did, and I followed and supported her as I spent the last few weeks with my precious dad whilst also recovering from my own surgery. I watched her dot as she tracked across a hot, steamy UK with loads of ice cream and sun cream stops…..she nailed the event in blisteringly hot conditions.  

Day 1 

May 2024 arrived, and it was my turn to go and there I was on the start line in Sheffield. I was scheduled an 11am start time. My face was exposed and the rest of me was firmly covered. Latex gloves, latex overshoes, waterproof coat …..it was raining VERY heavily and there was no sign in the forecast that the rain was going to subside. At least the forecast was wrong. Between 6.03pm and 6.05pm that day the rain stopped! 

Because of the weather, I booked B&B accommodation in Burnsall in the Dales for my first night. The rules allow you to book accommodation only on the day you need it. I needed to cover 180km to get to my bed and I was feeling strong and focussed. I was pedalling through flooded roads and relentless heavy rain. I visited checkpoint (CP)1 at Emley Moor and was surprised to see a friend there to cheer me on. Lovely! She was waterproofed up head to toe and I barely recognised her. I carried on after a hug and a photo.  I received a message to my Garmin headset – I was first on the leaderboard. I was not racing this event, but I am competitive and that message boosted me. 

I stopped in the Todmorden Valley for a quick hot drink and sausage roll at Greggs and then pushed on. Some friends came out to wave me along and then hurried back inside to shelter from the rain. My next pause was Chatburn for chicken fried rice and a coke. From there to CP2 and into a headwind on the road out of Slaidburn towards Cross of Greet Bridge (where sheep were looking at me bewildered We then had to complete on our brevet cards at CP2; I turned around now benefitting from a tail wind and heading along a fast stretch east after Slaidburn. At 10.20pm I arrived at Burnsall completely drenched. All my kit went into the drying room and I then went to my room, called home, showered and was in bed just after midnight. The wet weather meant that there was more ‘stuff’ to organise before bed and also before heading out in the morning. At just after 5am I was mopping the floor in the B&B (pools of water having dripped off my bike), clearing up newspaper and retrieving clothes from the drying room whilst eating breakfast and working out my plan for day two.  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

Soggy feet leaking in cafe 

Day 2  

This day did not go to plan. I set off from Burnsall at 6am into the rain again. Roads were flooded. The rain did not ease. I was scheduled to ride to CP3 at Scar House Reservoir near Pateley Bridge, then CP4 at Dales Bike Centre before heading over to the monster climb of the event at CP5 at Great Dun Fell. I started off reasonably well but have to admit that my spirits were a bit low. The sky was grey and dark, the mist was low and the rain just kept coming. The roads were rough from potholes and then flooding detritus….gravel, grid, mud = filthy flood water. The smoothest stretch of tarmac was that leading to and back from Scar House Reservoir. It restored my faith in workmanship that someone somewhere could in fact lay a smooth tarmac road. It was a joy to ride. Even in the rain. Then a head wind over Grinton Moor to Dales Bike Centre near Reeth – that was a tough stretch with wind and rain – but at DBC I bumped into a fellow rider who had been out all night. Chapeau to him. I wasn’t sure I had Great Dun Fell in me that day but my route was planned and the alternative of a re-route was not attractive. I was heading over the moors towards Kirkby Stephen and I was struggling each time I hit an uphill. I had ridden hard on day 1. Maybe that was taking its toll. Maybe the rain? The mist? The grey? I don’t know. I just didn’t ‘want’ to ride. A taxi passed me going the other way. It put a thought in my head. I didn’t have to do this. I had been questioning my sanity for much of the day. The taxi driver came by me again about 15 mins later and I was pushing my bike up a hill. He pulled over and I waved and he asked if I was ok and I said no. He was heading to Kirkby Stephen and I was only focussed on a hot chocolate there to work out a plan. It was another 9 miles or so into the mist and I got in the taxi. I was so very grateful. I went to a café in Kirkby Stephen, got a drink and worked out a plan. I thought my event was over to be honest but I didn’t want to ring through to the organiser to ‘scratch’. I had messages with home, a friend, my coach and landed on a plan which was to get a room at the hostel, dry out, eat, sleep and then see what tomorrow brought. I did just that.  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

Misty Moors 

Day 3  

I woke up into a better day. Well, it was dry. It was grey. But it wasn’t raining. To remain in the event, I needed to go back to the place I was picked up on the moors. I arranged a taxi there and at 8.25am I was left on the moors in the mist and rain again. At least I knew when I dropped down into Kirkby Stephen it was a better day.  

By the time I got there it was actually raining…….  

I cycled on and up towards GDF. Brutal climb. My shoes were drenched again before I went up due to flooding on the road. There was absolutely no view of the top of this iconic climb. I knew that the descent and ride over to Penrith was a good, fast section and I could tick off some distance. I kept saying ‘no decisions until Penrith’ over and over again. On my way down off GDF I bumped into a rider I would keep bumping into and she had the biggest ever smile as I waved furiously at her. Then my gears stopped working properly. My left shifter was not reliable to get me into my gears to power along the flat. I could easily get into my climbing gears still and that was the better way around. I pulled into the bike shop in Penrith to a dismissive response that they might be able to look at my bike but it was not likely they would be able to fix it. It was still raining. I was asked to come back in 30 mins and I decided to go for food at McDonalds in Penrith. I messaged some friends and said that Penrith was likely to be the end of the road for me.  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

Great Dun Fell – iconic cycling climb 

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

My view – Great Dun Fell in the mist 

Then something happened as I left McDonalds. Firstly, it stopped raining and there was the smallest patch of blue – that was my dad looking over me encouraging me to keep going. Turning right would take me to the bike shop. Turning left would lead me into the Lake District and the next CP at Buttermere. I turned left almost without conscious thought and as I rode I decided to chunk the ride – Penrith to Keswick and then see how I was. If OK, Keswick to Buttermere…..etc. I had booked the Premier Inn at Penrith for the evening and I knew I could get there whether I went to Buttermere or not. The other motivator was that I would end the day with 6 checkpoints and the main event hadn’t even started yet…..the 72 hour event riders (I KNOW, I KNOW!!) didn’t leave Sheffield until 8pm on Friday evening! 

The ride from Penrith to Keswick takes in an old railway line which was delightful. I went to the bike shop in Keswick to clean the chain and lube and onwards I went. Then on to Newlands Haus and drop down to Buttermere. The weather stayed warm, dry and fine for the rest of the day. There was the most beautifully positioned wastebin at CP6. BOOM. Done. Three hours more riding would get me to my bed in Penrith and then I would just be a day behind my scheduled plan after my 17-hour break on day 2. Sainsburys was open when I arrived back at Penrith. I stocked up, sorted my gear, rang home and went to bed.  

Day 4  

Today was the day I cycled with owls. It was magical.   

Up and at them. I opened the curtains to a splendid day. Blue sky. I was up for this. Indeed, I never looked back again or contemplated giving up. This was a truly fabulous day. I climbed my favourite climb, Hartside, went through Alston to Nenthead (where I used the track pump at the bike shop and chatted with the owner for a while), Allenheads – gorgeous cycling terrain and I picked up CP7 at Rookhope Arch. From here, to Wooler. Indoor accommodation for the night in Wooler was non-existent and I decided to camp. I was actually excited about this. I had a new tent and a night out added to the sense of adventure. I had a lovely set up and was so grateful for having carried my sleep gear – particularly at midnight when the torrential rains returned. I was dry and secure……until I lost a tent peg to the wind and the foot end of the tent collapsed on me. My alarm was at 4am and at 6am I left from the laundry on the campsite. I was completely wet through as was all my camping gear including my sleeping bag and the extra waterlogged weight was annoying. I had another 20km or so in me as I arrived into Wooler but there was hardly any accommodation choices on my route between Wooler and Union Chain Bridge (the furthest point north and CP8). I couldn’t find any accommodation beyond Wooler inside or out nor any shops which were open for dinner or breakfast tomorrow. So Wooler was my end point on day 4. 

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

Day 4 – magical 

Day 5  

I was feeling disheartened still to be heading north on the 5th day. In my plan I should have been firmly heading south to Sheffield but my ‘down afternoon’ on day 2 had put me back and then the reality was that I was not cycling as much distance each day as my planned distance. The weather and my mood definitely had a part to play in this.  

At 8am I was at Union Chain Bridge and I crossed over into Scotland for the question for the brevet card. Two other riders were there and we chatted briefly but I didn’t hang about in the torrential rain and headed back along the same route eventually diverting towards Druridge Bay CP9, south to Newcastle and on to my accommodation in Stockton on Tees. What a celebration to be heading south at last and with the prospect of a Monday finish into Sheffield.  

I had a good, strong fast day despite the relentless rain until 10am and then rain again from 1.30pm. As I approached Stockton I could see a very dark sky, hear thunder and hear lightning. The sky was getting darker and darker. It was about 8pm. Sun down was more like 10pm but you would not have known. I was pushing hard to try and get to my bed before the storm. I didn’t make it. Oh my goodness. The roads were flooded. The river was flooded. The rain was battering down. Lightning was cracking. It was spectacular. I came to a flood across the road and a VW transporter was turning around rather than go through it. I stopped to work out what to do. I thought I could probably squeeze past tight on the left and avoid the depth of the flood. As I was contemplating my predicament, a driver drove straight through the flood water sending a wave of dirty spray high into the air – it then landed on me. It was cold and filthy. I was shocked and REALLY, REALLY upset. I mean, I couldn’t have got any wetter anyway from the deluge I had just been cycling through but it did feel completely unnecessary for the driver to act in that way. My language was choice!! I couldn’t easily find my hotel in Stockton – I didn’t fancy the riverside cyclepath or the A66 dual carriageway which were the only two options Google gave me. I pulled up at Burger King and tried to work out a route. My latex gloves were not being recognised on the touchscreen of my Garmin or my phone. I decided to ring for an uber. The storm was still raging and I don’t think the driver was too enamoured when he came for me and my bike but I smiled sweetly and offered to sit on a plastic bag on the passenger seat. The journey was short and at the Premier Inn all my gear went into the tumble drier, and I started to empty my bags including tent and sleeping bag to try and get things dry ready for my final push into Sheffield tomorrow. 

Day 6  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure

Danby Beacon 

Early start. A lovely start to the day which then turned into warm sun and very heavy showers – all day. I was out with a breakfast of nine biscuits and a Gaviscon and over to Danby Beacon. I bumped into a fellow rider cleaning grit and dirt out of her front derailleur with her toothbrush and I offered only moral support (riders are not able to assist each other according to the rules) and pushed on. Down to Kirbymoorside to the Co op for second breakfast and two friends came to see me. That was very uplifting. Then a pretty flat and fast dash to York and south to Sheffield. I hit the Sheffield postcode area and felt emotional. It was still actually a long way to the finish as Sheffield is big and sadly, also hilly. That felt brutal and unkind at that stage. But, at just after 5.30pm I rolled into Sheffield. My partner and my friend were there to meet me and it was just delightful. I blew a kiss to the sky because my dad had once again been there for me watching over and guiding me to make some good decisions. I was safe. I was back at base. And this was Monday and I had no work until Thursday so plenty of time to rest once back in Manchester.  

Bike Week 2024: Nadia Kerr's All Points North Adventure