Thursday 15th January 2015


I didn't wanna do this and it seems I wasn't the only one! With an absolutely bitter wind howling past the entrance to the Gollum's Cave (for new members; historically "The Cave" - Terry's pad where we used to start all rides from) and also, historically, he got the "Gollum" nickname (see Lord of the Rings if you still don't get it) because he looks just like this: 


However, he'd seen the forecast and it had suggested there may be an easing-down from 70 mph gusts to little more than an elephant's phart by late evening, so out he went bravely, digging out the newly-resurrected DDG Hitman with it's happilly corrected chainstay issue. With the wind and slight precipitation rebounding from his napper he approached the Wheatsheaf roundabout from where you can normally see the odd Chinese Cree LED piercing the bush surrounding ASDA's most easterly car park, but not tonight, Josephine. Great, he may get straight home before the lifegiving trickle of red corpuscles migrate from his fingers and toe ends!

Unfortunately, no such luck. There waiting in the bleakness within the relative calm of the trolley cage was relative newcomer Jonathan C - the Gollum's heart sank. Ah well, no-one to blame and a great tradition to uphold. "We never close". It was about 6:59 point 5  but in the forlorn hope that some other fool may turn up, the wait was on. And it was just a few minutes before one of those familiar dazzling rays bergan to bathe the shelter with it's piercing white ray. No, it wasn't Ray, it was Lee! My goodness, true to his word he seems to be sticking to his NY Rez - to get out regularly again regardless of time constraints or inclemency. Good Old Boy. That really put the lid on any cowardly thoughts of retreat, and at 7:07 the Gollum's mood was compounded even further when a familiar looking van approached the trio meaningfully. What, another total fruitcake? This was was indeed one of our very latest recruits in the shape of Cameron, like Jon an imported Yorkie and turning out here for his second NMBC ride.

Well that was it, gales, sleet, driven rain and hail did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Futile Foursome as they slinked away into the Country Park to escape the imposing and not very welcoming elements. Now I can't tell you exactly where we went but we spent quite a while looping around a wooded area, on bridleways as always (of course!) with a small excursion or two in some trees well away from any footpath for which we have abundant respect at all times. The grassy slope up the side of a pond proved very heavy on the legs and this was just 20 minutes in.

There was an inevitable dead end to contend with, probably caused by Terry's eyes fogging up with the constant stinging bombardment of tiny sleet missiles. However we all stayed pretty close together and regrouped once or twice and rested as required. Then it was time to find another oasis of calm, which meant leaving the sanctity of this place and hitting open farm road. Fortunately this gave us a tailwind so it was easy and relatively quick to get over to Hadrian Park. The soft ground around the Swallow Pond left the legs heavy once again and as the hail pretended to be nothing more than drizzle we stopped at the roadside to recover again, handy for the other three to become aquainted but not the Ride leader as he couldn't speak.

We used the path through the estate to stay sheltered before turning onto the Battle Hill bridleway and heading into Silverlink. That gave us the opportunity for a bit of speed work down the side of the steam railway before a very short breather and the short, sharp climb into the trees overlooking it. We rode straight back down onto the Waggonway and headed north,enjoying in the Building Society singletrack first before popping out and taking to the grassy slopes around the foot of Sundial Hill.

There followed the "second half" of tonight's two-spot ride as we weaved around, up, down and back up the hill and it's paths again, culminating in a hike-a-bike up that slippery slope to the Sundial itself which proved pretty difficult with the grass being so wet.

Because our new lads hadn't been up there before, we made it the pinnacle of the ride and tried to prepare them for the tricky descent to come, straight back down that muddy chute. terry went first so the others could be shown the safest spot to fall off at, but amazingly kept it rubber side up. He was followed by Lee and then Cameron, while Jon upheld tyhat marvellous NMBC tradition by slipping off and taking an over-the-bars excursion. Soft landing guaranteed though, so no damage done (he claimed!).

It was time to leave as we'd done just about everything we could without repeats, so we dropped off the park and over the road aside the Village Hotel, taking the bridleway to Holystone. When we reached the fork in the path, Lee announced we were a little off the ten mile mark on his trusty GPS. Well, if nothing else we surely had to at least reach double figures tonight. Therefore, Terry did an about-turn and headed back towards the Village again, but shot off abruptly to the left as fast as he could and now heading for West Allotment.

We regrouped down on the estate and rode south again, but only as far as the first track which had us circumnavigating the duck pond before finally emerging at the Northumberland Arms. That's where Lee issued the long-awaited readout of 10.7 miles. Hooray! Last job then was to cross Holystone Roundabout and scoot for home, the last 500 metres to the Cave being the hardest out in the open against the wind, but by now it had definitely eased and the rain had also stopped.

It was just 9:00 pm when Lee eased to a halt outside the Cave to drop off the Gollum, but the hardy soul is made of sterner stuff and insisted on completing the ride back to ASDA again, so that's what he did! About 11 miles clocked and 2 hours to do it in - mission accomplished.




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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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