Sunday 6th

Sun 6th Apr 2014

So, with a day free of any of those pesky, interfering Cycle Speedway fixtures at last it was time for Terry to get MAC Sunday rides back on track (no pun intended).

Ian M was first to arrive at the Cave around 0840 with one of our old circuits at Mitford being Terry's choice for a decent but close-to-home run out. The pair waited for the others to arrive. And they waited.

And they wai...

Off they went at around 0910 and the ride was switched, fairly sensibly, to something a bit closer still to home, with the pair deciding to go exploring in the interests of adding some new greenery to the vast NMBC portfolio. Result - we left the car at East Hartford and headed for a familiar starting point.

Once in the woods we did indeed discover a trail heading away from the norm so we followed it, or tried to, with Ian showing some exquisite mastery of broadsiding with the back end of the YT hanging out on the very slippery mud. We didn't get far before Terry had to scramble up a steep slope to see if we could get any further, but having to order the retreat and get back on the riverside trail over the concrete bridge.

There followed a bit of a hike but with plenty of action on the ridden off-camber muddy sections when both stalwarts almost came to grief in the murky waters of the River Blyth's tributary. This section helped prepare us for what was coming, although we didn't know it at the time.

We reached the stepping stones at Humford Mill and stripped off, both of us far too heavily clothed in the gradually rising sunlight, although it may have been more to do with the sheer physical effort of constant mounting, dismounting and bike dragging that raised our temperatures. At least the expected rain didn't materialise so the coats weren't needed.

It was at this point the greed for new territory struck, and we deviated from the accepted norm trail direction by 180 degrees. Regret kicked in just moments later with the first gnarly, and somewhat dangerous climb of the day. And the next 2.4 miles took us through sheer hell and consumed 2 hours and 12 minutes as we scrambled, slid, ducked, lifted, pushed, dragged and carried our bikes and ourselves along what could have been a very pleasant little singletrack trail. If only half the trees lining the river hadn't been blown down right across it, and if only many of the rideable bits didn't offer some suicidal off-camber slopes ready to shoot us into the swirling brown torrent!

Here's Ian just after one of those typical off-camber moments.

oc

In fact, that's what very nearly happened to Ian as his bike slid off the trail heading for the drink, and he was only saved by his second lunge for a friendly branch after the first one he grabbed refused to hold. Amazingly at that very same instant, Terry's giggle was cut short when his derailleur deranged and snapped the Hitman's mech hanger! We were there quite a while repairing the damage to the SLX mech, which extremely fortunately has two little slots in the lower cage overhang which allowed us to pull the cage back together to keep the jockey wheel in place after Ian stripped the thread on its spindle!

No, this isn;t Robin Hood, more like Throbbing Dude after he almost went into the wet stuff!

ianrobins

So, total mechanical failure was avoided but total misery wasn't, as there was a lot more rough ground and bog to get across, around and over before we finally came across the first available crossing point. This turned out to be one of those bridges you'll only find in a Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones movie, and consisted of - a fallen tree. After the punishment its peers had been meting out to us for the last few hours we didn't expect anything organic to come to our rescue, but here it was, almost perfectly laid out across a fairly wide part of the river and just daring us to cross.

This potential escape route drew a blank.

nots

The first part was quite tricky as the trunk had a bit of a pointy top on it, but it didn't take brave Ian long to discover that it fitted pretty neatly between his bum cheeks as he waddled across the first ten feet with his bike dangling over the swirling current a few metres below. He made it look easy enough for the now stranded and lonely looking Gollum to follow in much the same fashion, and we may have some video evidence to show you on here shortly.

A short climb up the far side bank saw us on the very familiar final section, the muddy climb to the crest preceding the drop down to Hartford Hall estate. When we reached the roadside we agreed to head for Bedlington to increase our mileage somewhat, mainly to avoid later embarrassment when word got out. And as Ian hadn't visited the new trails at Gallagher Park yet, that was our next target.

When we got there, the place was totally bare, not a soul in sight on either the MTB trails or the BMX track which struck us as crazy on such a lovely warm, sunny afternoon! Unless there are other competing Sunday afternoon attractions in heaving Bedlington, of course. After a quick guided tour we became separated for about ten minutes with Ian exploring and Terry resting.

After Ian had done his timed second run around the BMX track we headed out into the town and down the hill to the Country Park. Considering what we'd already endured in the vicinity of Humford Mill we decided to stay on the road out to the A189 Spine Road where we hit the dramatically increasing headwind until we reached the turn off down to Horton Bridge and calm again back to the car. We did end up grinning about our little adventure, Ian philosophically pointing out that no matter how much toil we put ourselves through (purgatory?), we always manage to look back on our rides kindly, and hey, the telly was crap today.

Here's our GPS trace, and you can find Ian's on Strava via the Forum.

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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.

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