Helen Quarmby: My journey from Zero to 44 miles

Helen Quarmby, a bus station manager from Pontefract has started her journey from zero to 44 miles in preparation for her first cycle challenge.

Helen would like to encourage people to join her this summer in setting themselves a cycle challenge, realise the health benefits of active travel and work towards a national goal of improving air quality.

If you would like to kick-start your summer health regime by training for a challenge ride, take a look at the Sustrans top 10 challenging rides, British Cycling Sportives or plan your own ride with theCityConnect Cycle Journey Planner. Your challenge might be to cycle to work twice a week, or to ride for 30 minutes without stopping. No matter how big or small your challenge might be, it’s a great way to realise the benefits of cycling.

Already an active fundraiser for the RSPCA: Leeds, Wakefield and District Branch, Helen will be raising money for the cause. The challenge ride will take place on the 17th June 2017. You can show Helen your support by visiting her JustGiving page and searching for Zeroto44.

So here’s Helen’s story, from the challenge rider herself, an honest account of the highs and lows of getting from Zero to 44 miles in just 12 weeks.

  by Helen Quarmby  | Friday 7th MArch

I was recently invited by some friends to join them on a bike ride from Scarborough to Whitby and return on the old disused railway line. Having not rode a bike for at least seven years I was reluctant to agree. I walk my dog every day and go to the local hotel gym for a swim and dip in the Jacuzzi but cycling 44 miles is a bit of a challenge to say the least. First of all, I needed a new bike as the one I did have was second hand when I got it over 20 years ago, so as you can imagine it’s a bit past it.

So I got a bike and I was on my way.

After my first two outings I bought some much needed padded shorts and a padded seat for obvious reasons! After two weeks of cycling every other day I am now comfortably doing 10 miles without getting wobbly legs. I already feel fitter but know I still have a long way to go. I’ve now got 10 weeks to achieve my goal.

I started logging my rides on the Love to Ride App to encourage me to go further.

Two weeks in and I won a £400 voucher to spend at Edinburgh Cycles, just by logging my rides with Love to Ride. I used some on a bike rack for the car and now I can take the bike to Scarborough to train on the railway line. I also got some cycling shoes. So, now I’ve got all the gear but no idea, hopefully I will by 17th June. Wish me luck!


We went to Scarborough for Easter and on Good Friday rode 17 miles from Scarborough to Hayburn Wyke and return in the rain. On Saturday we decided to walk from Whitby to Robins Hood Bay to see the route we will be riding. I can tell you that I’m not looking forward to that ride!

A lovely stroll DOWN into Robins Hood Bay from Whitby with stunning views but the return journey UP to Whitby was not so relaxing! On Easter Sunday we made sandwiches and filled out bottles with energy drinks and cycled half way to Ravenscar and back doing 22 miles.

I really enjoyed the ride and found people on the journey very friendly and encouraging.

I can also say that my bum doesn’t ache as much too! I found out that the disused railway line is called The Cinder Track. Locals call it The Cinder Track because the track ballast was made from cinders rather than crushed stone. The track is now made up of an assortment of gravel, tarmac and stoney areas which all make up for a bumpy ride!

My next challenge is to ride from Robins Hoods Bay to Whitby and return and then I will have done the full ride in two halves.

BY HELEN QUARMBY  | Monday 22nd May

We set off to see how far we could go on the railway line in preparation for my challenge. I achieved 31.4 miles riding from Scarborough to Robins Hood Bay and back of which I am both surprised and proud of! The views are amazing and I had to keep stopping to take photo’s and have a breather!  On the way back we treated ourselves stopping off at The Station House Tea Room which is a converted Victorian railway station in the village of Cloughton for tea and cake!

My next big achievement will be on 17th June when I intend to cycle the full 44 miles from Scarborough to Whitby and return.

Every time I get on the bike I find I can ride for a bit longer and go a bit further and am enjoying every minute of it.  I find most people on my journeys are very friendly and accommodating as long as I ring my bell and let them know I need to pass.  I have had the opportunity to tell many people about my challenge and that I am also raising money for a very worthy cause, the Leeds, Wakefield & District RSPCA Branch who rehabilitate and re-home animals.

I always direct people to the CityConnect website for more interesting information on cycling.  I love mapping my rides and so far from my first ride on 16th March to now I have done 28 trips cycling 215 miles.

To get a bit more practice in and when it’s raining I am doing the odd ride on an exercise bike which I don’t enjoy but needs must!

Remember if you would like to sponsor me please go on-line to www.JustGiving.co.uk and search Zeroto44

  BY HELEN QUARMBY  | Tuesday 13 June

One week to go!  Am I prepared?  I think so! Since my last blog I have cycled another 89 miles over a few more journey’s in training for my charity cycle ride on Saturday 17th June in aid of our local Leeds, Wakefield & District RSPCA.  I have done my recent training on both my bicycle and an exercise bike to keep my momentum going.

Last week I cycled up to Ravenscar again in wet weather and reminded myself I must get some mudguards as I was drenched and filthy by the time I returned home!  I met up with an elderly gentleman who was cycling from Land’s End to John o’Groats and cycled with him for a while.  I find it is a very friendly sport to be involved in and everyone is very encouraging and always willing to lend a helping hand.  Although, a helpful push up the hills would be useful!

I have rallied round another four friends to join me and my husband on the charity ride and we have all been training.  Only one of these friends is an avid bike rider so the rest of us have had some catching up to do which has been challenging.

Wish me good luck for Saturday and let’s hope for nice weather!

Remember if you would like to sponsor me please go on-line to www.JustGiving.co.uk and search Zeroto44


Well, I made it!

On one of the hottest days of the year we all set off on our cycle challenge. I’ve already cycled to Robin Hoods Bay before so I knew what to expect. However, the ride up in to Whitby and along to Whitby Abbey was tough. I had to dig deep to get up the long climb to Hawsker. Cycling with friends helps as we all encouraged each other to carry on going.

The scenery is also beautiful although on this occasion I was cycling with my head down most of the time. Lunch at Whitby Abbey was very welcoming and I felt proud I had got there. We also found a new micro pub which we will visit another day!

When we set off back the heat had risen significantly and it was a real struggle to get going again. Eventually, I got my second wind and off we all went.

A few water stops later we were back at Ravenscar for ice cream. With the promise of an ice cold beer waiting for me at home I put my head down and finished in style.

We were out most of the day but I cycled 44 miles in 4 1/2 hours of which I am very proud of and will be keeping up my new hobby.

The best of all is that I have raised over £700 pounds for our local Leeds, Wakefield & District RSPCA Rehoming Centre. Remember if you still want to sponsor me then visit Just Giving and type Zeroto44.

A massive thank you to all of you who have already sponsored me. It kept me going.