Thursday 26th March

It felt very cold as we gathered at ASDA for this one, but it wouldn't be too long before a few tops were coming off. Another lovely evening once the wind finally died but really the only time we felt it was the outbound field crossing at Holystone.

Mark S was again chosen as victim to lead this one and decided on the Big Waters so off we went, just thirteen of us again, MAC's favourite number in 2015!

I absolutely hate that field, but after getting away first it didn't seem so bad, even when the others started passing me at 3/4 distance. It did, however, leave a tired old man gasping at the top gate. Killy singletrack came next but not frantically at the back, although it was a noisy place to be with Lucy and Fiona gabbling incessantly just ahead. In fact, that lasted all night (duck Terry). Out the far side, Ian suffered a flat tyre, and it took a while to sort, or seemed to, but the extra delay was caused by an injury to Ian's hand as he inflated the tube. Either Chris or James had the solution and one of them produced sticky tape or an elastoplast, as well as helping out with the repair. Good set of lads, these Westerners.

Mark didn't stop to regroup down at the Crossroads, bombing straight down to Burradon Tower where we turned towards the village, going straight over at the corner and crossing the field to the bottom of Dudley. The wind didn't seem so bad as we headed across to Weetslade where we stayed with the road, avoiding what would have been a savage climb up to the Drillbits. Half way along the waggonway Terry jumped ahead (shades of last Thursday when he "stole" Mark's ride!) and dived up the rough dual track that runs parallel for half its length. A change is as good...

Out into Seaton Burn we gathered again over the main road before TK again directed Mark the long, clockwise way into the trees. He then proceeded to send him into a dead end, but that was an honest mathematical error. With Mark back up front we skittled through the longest section of singletrack with a decent amount of haste. When we popped out onto the path again, we crossed Paul's Demise (the little wooden bridge he fell off last year) and entered the top wood a slightly different way, so well done Mark for that, although the run to the top was a bit slower than our usual chute due to the proximity of the trees in here.

When we reached the Six Mile Bridge, Matt decided his long-standing leg injury wasn't up to the job, so he headed for home through Wideopen while the rest of us (we thought) ascended the slope and crossed the A1, but at the other side there were only four of us, the others still on the east side for some reason. Can't remember what the delay was for this time, someone enlighten me so I can update this please.

Next stop the Big Waters - so Target Aquired as far as Mark was concerned. Terry then led around behind the airport side car park around a path we don't use normally, just to inject another kink in the Strava traces, and when he popped out the far end, Mark insisted he'd gone the wrong way. Interesting! It took a small but persuasive hint to resume normal service, after which his advisor dived into the bog that wasn't a bog to lead the troop out into Hazlerigg. Several different routes were taken by individuals trying to fight their way out of the tangled brambles rather than take the leader's straightforward path. Such a lack of faith, even after so many successful campaigns!

Mark got back in front as we headed through Brunswick but was forced to stop with a pretty soft rear tyre. No puncture, but it needed air and after a false start with a dodgy gas can, the second one worked and away we went again as he got us into Havannah, his sense of direction returning as familiar landmarks appeared. We had a quick lap or two of the surrounding trees before hitting the rooty climb up to the Coven where we stopped as usual for tea and scones, or to be more factual, the delicious Lucy's Brownies (read that any way you want, she knows it!).

Ten minutes was hardly enough time to savour the flavour before we were off again behind Mark, although we didn't have a great deal of time left to romp through the trees. He managed to find the timber runway and we hiked the bikes over the fence and continued to skirt the pond. The next puncture victim was Mark R on the back of his Lapierre X-Control which was fettled at the second attempt with Terry's donation of a superlight, super-skinny tube after Mark's own brand new spare sprang a leak. From there Terry led down to the Sage singletrack, a brilliant little ribbon of wiggly trail that spat us out in the middle of the Great Park. Thats where the other Mark's (Mark R) local knowledge paid off as we toured the edge of the estates until he got us onto our old single down from Brunton Lane, now half gone thanks to the massive building development here.

We dipped under the A1 and it was again Terry's turn to point the way, straying off the relatively new tarmac path onto the burn-side trail we used to frequent for a long, fast blast across to the east side, before cruising up to Brunton Lane again. Time to trigger the speed sensor for the fast lads, and someone got it up to 29mph in the mad dash down to the Great North Road. With half the squad already headed into Melton Park, we had to call them back again with Gosforth Park Mark's final playground. That led to the usual flat-out race up the first hill, this time Dan getting the better of Terry and Ian, who was now riding without lights after electrical failure.

There followed a farcical full circuit of the Jockey's Lodgings with Terry taking a wrong turn, and the correction must have added ten minutes onto the ride time. he got it right at the second attempt and as we regrouped, Mark R turned for home as we were now well past normal finish time. Rather than scoot straight along Sandy Lane to do some catchup, we dived into the top of the Golf Course and probably got time back such was the ferocity of the chase, with Terry pulling Dan this time and Ian trying to use their lights to guide him. That just left the Old Groaner, aka Great Lime Road to navigate, arriving back at ASDA at 10:30 pm, but not after Arthur had been smitten with a rear flat just a few hundred metres from home!


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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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