Thursday 24th July

Thu 24th Jul 2014

ASDA car park, 7:05 pm:

"Where to?" (Ian A to Terry, his turn again!)

"Plessey Woods". (response)

The ride selection this time was based on Terry surmising that long-missing but oh-so-welcome Midaircrisis Core man and New Daddy Chris D had come out for a bit of jumping around rather than waggonway tootling, and another "irregular", Paul W had done the same on his monstrous Orange Alpine. Well, there are a few rocky bits and some tricky tree roots to avoid, so why not? And just for a change, we'd do it clockwise, or "uphill" as Terry always insists this is, although the flow of the river would suggest the exact opposite!

So we headed out towards deepest, darkest, uncharted Forest Hall, got just past ASDA and lost Ian, Dan and Lucy! Explain? Partially because Ride Leader decided to cut through the industrial estate, but how they weren't seen by the Three Musketeers will forever remain a mystery.

A short wait before the railway line had us merged into one group again and we headed through the estate to Station Road and our second change from the norm, crossing the flyover and doing the Longbenton run backwards across to the Golf Course. More fun there as Terry took a path not ridden for years to circumnavigate the first tree line short of Gosforth Park which had us nicely spread out again, this time a different three bodies (well, ONE different) becoming detached by riding straight past the turn-off.

Popping out of Melton Park we headed for the Hotel with Ian leading us into the trees, Terry taking over at half way to get us over to the Hole-in-the-Wall and out onto Sandy Lane. We regrouped on the far side before continuing up into Wideopen, cutting down to a new short bridleway before getting lost (what, an admission?) amongst the houses. Eagle-eyed Dan eventually spotted a breakout and we ended up popping out onto the main road just north of where we normally cross.

So, Terry was again up front as we hit the woods via one of the overgrown, nettle-infested skinny singletracks, screams emitted from all directions as the plant life gorged itself on bare legs and arms. Regrouping again momentarily, the Leader again sprang into life as we rounded the end of the fence, and continued flat out up to the next trail junction. Looking around, there was no-one behind him, and the Wood fell silent. He waited. And waited. Then her decided to backtrack, probably a mechanical behind.

When he got back to the bridge however, there was Paul's Voodoo Canzo well and truly buried underneath it! Fortunately Paul managed to sidestep most of the trouble as he flew over the wooden trail edge and was displaying that famous broad grin as ever. Lucky lad. The last one to perform a stunt like this lost his memory for months! (Hiya Tim).

After the partly submerged susser had been rescued and checked over it was time to move on, long ride still ahead. Reaching the junction once more, Terry chose to tackle the next stage via the Twin Plank Trail just to see if anyone else could tip off in a stream gully. No casualties, but stopping mid-forest we found we were short of four or five bodies, again. Word quickly reached the front that Lucy had a broken rear. It sure looked fine the last time I saw it. Oh, sorry, word was her rear derailleur had suffered a fatal blow. We all backtracked into the midge's lair to await Dan and Colin affecting a singlespeed repair job.

On completion, Ian B said he was turning back anyway so as not to tire himself with his Big Birthday Ride due a few days later, and Dan decided to join him as Lucy's escort home. Big thanks to peter for volunteering to carry Lucy's biscuits for us for the remainder of the ride!

The rest of us continued through the woods behind Ian A, then back onto the main road through Seaton Burn before the long tarmac drag down to Stannington Vale.

The woods were attacked with gusto, but in Ollie's case a wee bit too extravagantly, as he puncture the puny rear tyre on his, er, bicycle. I shouldn't be too hard on him but there really is a clue in our name, and it isn't "Cyclo Cross". The main party had cleared off leaving five of us behind, one to fix and four to gloat. Once done, we caught them up where they'd stopped for a cuppa at the jetty. No time to linger though, and we were off again steaming along the river bank.

Really enjoyed this bit. I'd only been out with Chris once this year before tonight, at Thrunton, but our charge through this tricky singletrack with its twists, gullies and big tree roots trying to stay on his tail was just so enjoyable I may take it up regularly. (I wish!).

The Pauls left us at Hartford Bridge while we others used the road to get us up the hill to Crammy Corner, and Ian led us up the dual carriageway until we could get off onto the path just beyond the railway bridge. All OK so far although we were going to be a bit later than usual.

Not strictly true.

We were going to be QUITE late following Ian's decision to take a right we'd never used before, ignoring the please of mark who insisted "we always turn left here". (Guess who was right!). Anyway, the upshot was that we ended up testing an electric fence several times, and feeling it's output, as we circumnavigated several fields containing wild-eyed four-legged monsters in the dark, listening intently for 12-bore cartridges being loaded. If that wasn't bed enough, we emerged exactly where we'd started roughly 3/4 of an hour earlier after adding on a loop of 1.8 miles of pure zero-speed sufferance. The welcoming street lights we saw in the distance and eventually headed for were precisely a mile and a half away from the ones we thought they were!

I think the pace rose slightly from that point as we hissed up the tarmac into Cramlington and over to Annitsford for the final cut through Killingworth where Mark got off, and Forest Hall where all but Ollie, Chris and Terry escaped. !!:00 pm back at the Cave after a memorable one, just over 27 miles. First sore bum of 2014 to the Gollum.

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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 Best Bike in the World arrives at ASDA!

Well, not actually in the store, but outside in the car park on Thursday night, and it was John Rivers who turned up with it, lucky s**! And as if to prove it's pedigree it resisted all of Matt Holmes' attempts to wreck it on a sharp-edged, very high kerb!

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