Sunday 25th January 2015

Ah, yes.

To quote from the pre-ride Event: "Cross Country Ride in nearby Northumberland. meet at the Border Minstrel pub in Gosforth Park at 0900 or Ryal Village around 0945 for a new ride (for most). It's about 13 miles if I don't mess it up and the forecast looks pretty decent so not a long ride for family folk."

In Defence

Now look here, I can't get it right all the time.

But first - today we welcomed another newcomer for his first taste of, er, mud? It's another human photocopy I'm afraid, this time another Lee, so hello Lee D! Like most of us Lee just can't bear being stuck at home and having to have "conversations" with his better half, so out he came to get a different sort of punishment. Lee rides a blue and black Giant Anthem very similar to Doc Lucy's. Also taking something of a risk by attending this one was David who joined us recently so doesn't know any better. Yet. Ditto Marko who has had a chance to discover how bad our rides are but still dragged himself out for this one, goodness only knows why.

Gollum's Guide to Phonetix

Our new lady import Xanne is from the Netherlands so her name is a trifle unusual here, but after consultation with the girl herself I thought I'd offer you a possible pronunciation a bit nearer than the ones I've heard so far. Although Xanne reckons she'll happilly respond to just about anything including the ubiquitous Geordie "Hey, yee!", try this - "Zarna" but be gentle with the "Z".

Now where were me?

So before you all start mud-slinging (haha, too late!) I'll offer a quick defence then clam up. It's 7 years since I did this one, and today not only did I chop it in half the night before in case there were difficult areas, but I also did it the wrong way round. I make that three excellent reasons even the worst lawyer in the world to take my case to defend me against the appearance of any sour comments on social media.

With only two dropouts from those who had sworn allegiance to the cause before this Sunday morning , no names (OK, it was Fiona and Deryck) still a very good turnout for this time of year considering the lack of full Club rides over the winter months. So this one felt like the Good Old Days, or would have if the weather gods had been a bit kinder. When we arrived at the starting point, the tiny hamlet of Ryal on a very famous little Northumberland hillock (it's the nearest thing we have to Everest) there was a decent wind pressure and light drizzle, the wetting kind. If I hadn't been first in the parking spot I would have headed straight home but I was jammed in by the other four motors following, as if they knew.

Around 10:00 am we headed off, our illustrious Ride Leader guessing where the start would actually be but luckily for tk he had Mark R up front with him and he's trekked everywhere that's been discovered plus a few more places. That made it much easier, but in fact any fool could have done it just by looking for National Route 10, the Reivers C2C path. A nice enough downward-slanting opening few miles on farm roads before we met the first negative incline (should that be positive?) at Hallington, turning north for the dam. Great view just as the reservoir showed itself over the rise.

Just west of the water's edge the dual track, soaked after melted frost followed by rain, took its first victim. Fortunately for him he was right at the back so no-one saw it happen (it was me, and Mark S just couldn't get his camera out in time!). I forgot to mention that some of the views up here are very nice, and the slight rainy haze in the distance couldn't detract from that state today.


We hadn't travelled much further up this tricky slotcar track when Xanne suffered a puncture, a nice long thorn the culprit. While the hard lads stayed with her to effect a fix, the slower brethren led by Terry set off in pursuit of Paul W who had just kept going without any thought of lending assistance and total lack of comradeship, never looking back and disappearing over the rising horizon to stop a good mile further on before realising it's lonely out here on the moors.


We stopped just short of the high point to await the arrival of the puncture repair crew but they were an awful long time coming. It transpired that there'd been another thorn in Xanne's tyre which had blatted the new tube and caused a complete rerun of the operation! Now which moron will step forward and tell us if he or she checked the tyre the first time?

It must have been the start of incident time for this ride, as just a wee bit further on following our regrouping, as the angle of slope increased dramatically near the end of this particular climb up the appropriately named Carriers Lane, Ray stomped a few extra horsepower through his Nukeproof (haha! - total p!$$take!) pedals and proceeded to wind his rear derailleur up and back whereby it had wrung it's own neck, twisting the jockey cage to oblivion and snapping one of the crappy alloy "X" hinge points on his nice, light Shimano item.
Pucked. Nuked!


There followed the usual fannying about by the Old Engineer to convert the beast to a singlespeeder. Paul D's big tool came in very handy in the rescue attempt and he'd have it out again later. Can you imagine a susser with no lockout these days? Nah? Bl@@dy Nukeproof Cycles make one! The short tarmac stretch northwards was a bit easier for Ray to keep it mobile but as we turned off the road into the extremely rough bridleway to the top of Colt Crag, the thing started to misbehave again.

The Gollum's only recourse was to wind in a couple of cable ties to try and keep the muckle, stoneage coil shock from compressing, which was about 50% efficient but did cause several stops to move the chain down a cog. Still, he was mobile again, that's the main thing (pedalling furiously though, from this point on, hard work indeed!). And well done to Ray for managing to negotiate this terrain successfully without walking, as we all had trouble finding a decent rideable route over to the reservoir head.


It was around midday now so we pitched between the dry stone walls for bait, and while the fraternity gorged themselves on Marks S's birthday cake, the Gollum borrowed Paul D's humongous tool again and set about carving a shock stopper from the branch of a fallen tree. This artistically crafted device was then gently battered into place above Ray's coil shock with another short piece of tree and nailed in position with two more cable ties. Just time for a quick bite and we were off again, the Nukeproof not bobbing quite so much now.


It was a bit of a heave up the steady rise to the A68 crossing point where the next phase of Terry's devious plan was to be enacted. We have to be slightly elusive about this part on the grounds that it may incriminate someone (I must point out that Mark R was the Ride leader at this point). Let's just say we'd decided to invest in a mobile home for the Club but on taking a tour around prospective sites we were dismayed to find nothing to our taste, so we left discreetly by the back door.


we tried to find a new route through some trees which happened to be a caravan site and did succeed in discovering a short but brilliant section of singletrack under some trees, ruined only by the failure of Ray to keep his bike intact, but unfortunately it was a dead end and we were then forced to run the gauntlet of possible sniper attack by 12-bore through some inquisitive looking sheep. Only a small amount of agricultural land was totally destroyed in this exercise.

Once back on legal (ssh!) bridleway we had another hike-a-bike/slog to the legitimate skinny tarmac route south to Swinburne Castle ruins where we crossed back over to the east side of the A68 and headed for Colwell. Before reaching the black stuff, however, both Paul W (at last!), Marco and Colin (hilariously) had dumped themselves, the latter being the only one of the trio not to remain dry after his little whoopsie!

colin(pic by Paul W)colinwet

Arriving at the T junction in the little hamlet there were two possible routes to take, and Terry chose the wrong one, thinking back, incorrectly, to his last visit on a C2C ride many moons ago. This is what scuppered the revised 13 miler plan, adding another 50% onto the total distance, but as it turned out, maybe for the best as it did avoid what would have been an almighty bog-slog. It did not, however, avoid the even bigger obstacle of the Ryals! yes, that infamous Roadies Delight was awaiting a set of very tired legs, so I apologise for that slight error in navigation.

So, we ended up retracing our steps across the top of Hallington reservoir but it was a pleasant downhill cruise with what was left of a dying wind now at our back and assisting our progress over some very claggy terrain. The enjoyment of the tarmac blast down to Bingfield was instantly dispelled by the sight of the Ryals in the distance, but I suppose it was fitting that tk was last man home to tiny Ryal, and deservedly so.

In Summary:

Self preservation relies heavily on the correct application of blame, so here goes:

  • Mark R took a wrong turn
  • Xanne had a flattie
  • Ray bust his derailleur
  • Paul D had a blunt tool
  • Mark R hit a dead end
  • Lee mowed a meadow
  • Some eejit gave us the Ryals to finish on

Our rides may never be the most memorable in anyone's lifetime but there's always something that happens or someone says to strike a chord and make the memory last forever, whether it's a mechanical breakdown, a comical dismount or one of Paul W's endless stream of one-liners. Once again there was a good mixture in this ride, so although not a particularly pleasant one, still enjoyable. About 20 miles and 4 hours, see Strava:


Photographs courtesy Mark S

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Next Sunday Ride (plus other odd days) - See our Facebook page.

Next Night Ride: Thursday as usual.

Thursday nighters are 10-25 milers, 7:00pm start at ASDA East car park, Benton, 3-3.5 hours and generally OK for fit new riders but you need decent lights you can see with, NOT CANDLES. You MUST wear a cycle helmet.

Sundays are generally much longer, 8:00am to 10:00am starts from ride venue ending around teatime, and much harder rides.

Other ad-hoc rides are always being organised, see our Facebook page. Gloves, waterproof coat, snack and drink recommended. Carry basic tools.







The bigger the group, the louder the laughs!


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