Thursday 5th March 2015

Never "lost", simply exploring.

I will try to fill in the blanks of last Thursday's ride some time, but for now...

Tonight it seemed the weather had at last begun to turn. A grey day but much milder, no frozen extremities on this one. However, only 12 turned up at ASDA by start time, although they were joined at the Wheatsheaf by a late-arriving Adam H. No new people tonight and once again our latest pals from t'other side of the Toon were all present and correct. I still need to confirm which one of them rides which bike though! Bit of a drama before we left ASDA when it was discovered that Deryck's well-maintained and gorgeous Lapierre was losing it's rear triangle and its headset! Luckily Louis (not riding tonight) was there with his gear and just happened to have a cassette tool to nail the rear disc back on while a few other folk gathered around the bike to tighten some other parts. Bearings are shot though and do need replacing.

With a map safely tucked in a back pocket, the Ride Leader knew what he wanted to do tonight, but first he had an appointment at Killingworth Lakes. Dan did his utmost to prevent that meeting with a puncture in Forest Hall behind the church, but fortunately there was still a car waiting in the lay-by at Killy when we arrived. Terry proceeded to open the boot and withdraw a very big hammer before riding away with it to the lakeside. ???. Into the first clump of trees he dropped his bike and began rummaging along the trail, but failed to find the steel spike he was looking for. A few moments later Colin appeared and declared that he'd already taken care of the bike trap last year! Ah well, no matter! Thor's hammer was discreetly hidden in the undergrowth and we continued to follow the singletrack behind Colin.

Out the other side Terry led into Camperdown, up the ramp onto the bridleway and across to Weetslade with first Deryck then Dan leading up the hill with Xanne in hot pursuit against a pretty stiff breeze at the top. Terry was first down the west side slope which did cause a few concerns as we tried to judge our ever-increasing speed against what was looming under our wheels, but all got down safely. We cut the corner off the field before Colin took the helm for a fairly pacey circumnavigation of that normally boggy field. The first half has been well and truly ploughed by a plough making it very rough, but at least it was mainly dry with the second part no problem at all. Terry led over the bridge and stopped to regroup before heading along the burn side until we hit the end of the trail, when Adam set off in search of the exit. After a few goes we made one and escaped out onto Dudley Lane.

After another regroup Grant was consulted on the feasibility of the dual track opposite our escape point leading somewhere. "Dunno", so off we went anyway with Arthur in front, treading gingerly and on tight Farmer alert. Sure enough the dual ran out, just stopped, and ahead lay more lightly ploughed greenery. We followed it behind Adam until Terry spotted a missing section of mesh fencing, so he dived in and the others followed. That proved to be his second foul-up of the night when, after scurrying around on bits of trail and bits of jungle, we finally got snared up in a dead end and ended up where we started at the hole in the fence! Before we could resume however, there was a problem with the tail group that took a few minutes to sort, not sure what it was. The next 15 minutes wasn't much fun as we suffered a bit of mud-plugging and fence climbing before finally emerging in Seaton Burn as quietly as we could, and in stealth mode with lights off.  

Time for a pair of punctures here, Dan's second and somebody else's first (sorry, my memory issue again) so we called it bait stop time at around 9:20 pm. We'd been pretty warm pedalling, and hike-a-biking over that last boggy field but sure cooled down quickly standing around at the side of the main road. Once the repairs had completed and Dan had finished his box of shortbread (where were you Lucy?) Terry led off towards the Holiday Inn, but couldn't get into the next trail entry point due to a locked gate and a whole gaggle of roadworks trucks, so we did an about turn and ducked in behind the little business park instead. An attempt by the RL to enter the woods a different way proved fruitless and after retreating he then led into the proper singletrack and raced for the exit at the far end. There was quite a delay there for catch-up and once we'd gathered again it was full speed ahead into the trees again to the little access road behind the woods.

He then took everyone by surprise (surprise) by letting them ride past the next trail before diving in again for the blast across to the A1. With only a few light traces of mud left here this one was ideal for a nice sprint. After another regroup at the end of the path he was off again, through the wooden gate and around to the next wooded area behind Wideopen where a flat out  encounter with a sturdy tree almost removed a shoulder, made him cry and revealed a nice wedge of raw flesh back home in the shower, oucha. This provided us with almost ten minutes worth of nice dry singletrack before we reached the road again behind Wideopen where we took to the pavement heading for Gosforth and home. However, we only got half way to the Hazlerigg turn before Chris (I think!) had a puncture in his Giant, with three thorns found lurking inside the tyre.

With that fixed there was only one target left to compensate for the night's wrong-doings and that was the Park, with Terry again leading in at the top gate, just for a change. We rode through the jump spot before attempting to climb the steepish pull up to the old waggonway where just about everyone concertinad to a standstill as they hit the two deep tree roots just short of the top. Best laugh of the night (the only one?). We had a nice, manic blast around the trees as fast as we could go, Dan providing the closest challenge and eventually taking over at the front as the oldest pair of legs decided enough was enough. Finally we reached the calm of the east gate for a well deserved rest.

With Colin leading us across into West Moor, the well-deserved rest suddenly evaporated as the expected stroll along the Great Lime Road became death or glory romp! Definitely the quickest I've ever ridden the whole length, even missing saying "Goodnight" to Arthur half way along as I got dragged along by the others, and inevitable conned into ramping it up for the Metro Climb again, but not quite as rapidly as last week's record time. Home at 10:16 after 16.5 miles, totally destroyed and later extremely sore.

Thanks again for your company Ladies and Gents. here's my Strava trace:



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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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