Title : The British Heart Foundation TPT '09
Rider/Writer : Rob Chalmers
Photos : Harry Cheung
For a While I had been planning a BIG event to both honour my Dad and raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Back in October 2004 I lost my Dad to Heart failure whilst he was mountain biking near the family home so there seemed a bit of symmetry to attempt something like this.
As the TPT was close to my house and a gruelling test I thought that would be the obvious choice. Next I decided that seeing how I deal with sleep deprivation racing in 24hr Karting events doing an endurance event on the Trail would add another challenge into the mix, oh and for good measure I thought I'd do it solo too! Sadly due to the history with my Dad, my Fiancée asked if I could have a support rider for the Pennines and night sections.
When the Big Day arrived, the early morning drive with my support crew to Southport built my excitement even more, I was eager to get under way. After setting up the communication equipment of walkie talkies and mobiles I set off from the Seamark at on the 17th of April 2009 into a mild cross wind. Being based in Cheshire the west side of the TPT had been my training ground and my first section from Southport to Warrington flew by. Sadly that cross wind had become a head wind when I'd turned east around Widnes and it was now raining. Donning my wet proofs I set off towards Lymm where the Trail was now water logged and I was glad for my wets as me and the bike got covered!
As quickly as the rain had come, it went, leaving me to strip at Heatley to avoid a boil-in-the-bag scenario! After that my next stop was at Reddish Vale Visitor Centre. I had previously practised the Stockport route and it didn't phase me.
This was also was where my support rider Matt Allenby joined me and Bradley Wallbank, one of my support drivers. The support car task was taken up by our Photographer, Harry Cheung, who was having fun trying to get ahead of us to take photos. The head wind was now building and making our lives a misery as we slogged up the numerous hills to Hadfield. From there it got very tough. Taking the Reservoir route we were exposed to the wind as we made slow progress to the Woodhead Tunnel. Each turn of the pedals seemed harder and harder and I felt my heart sink as I sat at the bottom of the tunnel looking at what we had to climb. Taking time to compose myself and get a pep talk from Matt and Harry we plodded up the steep hillside walking some bits due to the wind and seemingly vertical nature of the climb. Even when we crested the peak and had the run down to Dunford Bridge the wind didn't let up and what should have been a rapid decent become another effort. After arriving in Dunford we decided to eat up and push on until Brampton. Luckily most of the decent from Dunford was sheltered allowing us to raise our spirits as our average pace rose and the distance tripped by. Even the odd hill didn't get to us and as the night closed in the fun of traveling through the woods of Silkstone, Worsborough and Brampton kept us on our toes.