Sunday 4th

Sun 4th May 2014

Those present:

Stevie B
Chris D
Ian M
Mark R
Mark S
Ian B
Mike
Terry

So, could we get back to a more "traditional" NMBC/MAC ride today with a little effort? Yes, I think so. With only a couple of names missing from the Old Mac Core as I once christened it we did indeed manage to regroup at last, and head out into charted(?) territory.

The so-called chart for today was supplied to Mark S by Terry for his GPS, the intention being to follow an old trace around a very familiar route beginning at Hedgeley Services on the edge of Powburn village. The route he sent Mark was one of a collection we'd covered many times previously. However, when Mark received it and loaded it up, there seemed to be a chunk missing, making it not quite a complete loop! "Ah well, I've been away you know" was the lame excuse from the now even more wizened old Gollum. Fat load of help that was then.

Regardless of that, seven of us set off from the Cave just after 0900 in Stevie's Range Rover and Ian B's Merc Vito to meet Mark R up at the parking spot.

A reasonable morning, cloudy but dry and fairly cool, but the mere presence of Ian B suggested it wasn't going to be a wet ride today! So we set off at 10:00 with Mark S glancing down at his GPS to make sure we were on the right heading, until after a whole 200 metres Terry shouted "this is it!" and almost immediately we were scampering off the route for a little add-in that wasn't included. What a start. Mark just shook his head and followed the others as they headed for the river bank and began following its course until we hit the intended bridleway.

Not long after, Terry again directed the group away to the left, but this time one of those good old mutinies took place, with Chris and Ian B steadfastly refusing to be diverted again. So, with Mark out front guiding we were just about going the right way. It wasn't too long before things started to warm up after the initial few gentle up-slopes were out of the way and we all started shedding layers.

It was quite a surprise to discover almost dry ground for the first few miles, which made the rough that much easier and even when the bogs did come later on they were nowhere near as bad as we'd expected.

The ford just short of Beanley provided the first entertainment of the day when we found the bridge choked with sheep, unwilling to move for us. Terry, half way across the river and half-pedalling on horizontal cranks to keep his boots dry suddenly found the Trek snaking sideways, which almost brought him to a standstill. Unfortunately Ian M was a wee bit too close and nudged his back wheel, with the inevitable wet leg result. memories of Jason's whoopsie here when he hit the back of Paul W a few years ago. Next man in was Mike who looked like making it until his own Trek got squirrely, and another pair of lower limbs became submerged. Mark S was last man over and decided to hit the water hard. Those of us looking on were certain he'd soon be submarining, but somehow he kept it upright and survived the slithery green rocks a foot below the surface.

Our GPS navigator-in-chief's joy lasted until we hit New Bewick Bridge when the other Mark began diverting us onto the possible alternative route that Terry had marked on his printed map. That took us to our first walk (for most of us at least) as we headed up the field crossing between the two minor roads where one of the Gollum's favourite staged photo opportunities presented itself - yes, you guessed it - a bridge! There were a few fairly hairy moments as yet more clothing was removed but very precariously with a raging torrent waiting below to sweep any mislaid garments out to sea!

Another short tarmac cruise saw us reach Old Bewick where we turned onto the rough and headed for Blawearie. It was part way along this moorland section that Ian M attempted to navigate a flooded hole, failing miserably for yet more soggy socks. This certainly seems the nicest way to cross Bewick Moor although we've tended to do it in the opposite direction on most previous rides. Stopping for a short recce at the old homestead, we recounted with some joviality the time we took cover underneath the ancient, rusting corrugated iron roof - during a substantial and directly overhead forked lightning storm!

The next stretch was pretty enjoyable with more of a downward slope on our side. I will come back and finish this maybe Monday or Tuesday but thought I'd better show some movement after I cried for more club-centric rides, and in fairness to my photographic buddies!

Photos here courtesy of Mark S and Ian M.

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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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