In 2019, Cyclist YouTuber Katie Kookaburra abandoned her attempt to complete one of the UK’s most arduous ultra-endurance cycling challenges. The sorry doesn’t end there, however. For in 2022, Katie and her faithful Endurance SL were back for more. We recently caught up with the intrepid explorer to find out how she fared. Read about it here in; All Points North – Unfinished Business.
Hi Katie, APN is frankly a bonkers challenge. What made you want to take it on?
I love the North, the hills, and riding my bike a long way. So, it just sort of made sense. And I love the self-supported side of it, as it pushes you out of your comfort zone.
This was your 2nd attempt at completing All Points North. What was the difference between this success and abandoning it the first time around?
The first time the weather was terrible, and there were really high winds on the hills. I got part way up Great Dun Fell, and it was simply too windy to ride. Then the gusts took my bike up in the air, and at that point, I thought this was just too much for me. A few mardy tears then followed. So, it definitely meant a lot more to me to complete it this time around. The weather still wasn’t the glorious sunshine I had hoped for at the start of June, though…
Did you learn some valuable lessons from that first attempt?
Absolutely. The main being that even if I didn’t complete the route, giving something a go is really important. And also, route planning 1000km more than once is good practice. I feel I can create some epic routes – with plenty of great food stops 😊.
You finished 2nd placed woman and 14th overall. You must feel pretty happy about that, right?
I know, right?! I’m super happy with that. My goal was to just get around and back to Sheffield. I did have a rough plan of food/sleep stops and pretty much stuck to it. But I think anyone that takes on something like this and gets to the start line – it’s such a massive achievement.
You rode through some of the most spectacular routes in the North of England. What was your favourite part of the ride?
I loved seeing Bamburgh Castle – it was during a brief period of sunshine, so it felt terrific. And I know it’s not all about the finish, but getting to the last checkpoint at Hornsea and knowing there was only around 120km to go felt really good. The welcome awaiting me in Sheffield was pretty special too.
And the worst?
Fixing a puncture at 1am in the chucking down rain will never be a highlight. But actually, the toughest part was riding up Hartside Pass around 11pm in the dark in strong winds, knowing I would be climbing even higher after the summit. I think it’s the unknown, but it teaches you it’s just a mental game. And I realised I don’t like mega strong winds, ha!
How did you get over those humps? When the body and mind gang up on you to convince you to end the insanity and just sleep?
I tell myself why I wanted to do this in the first place. Then have a rest for five minutes, and have something to eat. I found that when wanting to quit comes into my mind, it’s either down to lack of sleep, food, or water. Or a combination of all three! So, making sure those are topped up helps, for sure.
What kit did you pack?
The route you chose was far from flat. What gearing did you run?
I switched out my usual Shimano Ultegra compact (50/34) for Shimano GRX – 46/30. This made those hills feel (on the whole) pretty enjoyable 😊 Apart from The Struggle out of Ambleside. That felt steeper than it ever had done before! But I would recommend that set up for anyone who lives in hilly places or wants to take on some steep inclines.
Are you the only competitor who booked a hotel for a shower? 😁
Nope, lots of people did. And it’s all down to personal preference. I feel I can rest and recover better in a bed. And a shower always helps! I did have a few naps in ‘audax hotels, ‘ aka bus stops, and public toilets. Ahhh, the glamour of endurance riding.
What did you eat/drink to stay fuelled?
Dates, vegan sweets, juices, smoothies, bread, Clif bars.
Have you got any more ultra-endurance rides planned?
Not at the minute, but we shall see…
Would you do All Points North all over again?
Rim brake or disc brakes, discuss! (only joking!)
Ex-England international footballer and cancer survivor Geoff Thomas tells us why he is taking on one of cycling’s most gruelling challenges. Read about it here.
Looking to get into cycling? Check out our beginner’s guide to avoid the pitfalls that most of us encountered when we first took up the sport.