Thursday 2nd April

Lucky 13 run comes to an end!

Yes indeed, tonight there were 17 members gathered at ASDA for the 7 pm start, although only 16 started the ride with Xanne going straight home, not sure why. And I've missed someone off the Ride List so please help me find the missing body!

It was a very cold evening after a glorious sunny and relatively warm day with the evil wind of recent days just about gone. Hoping to continue the last year's worth of adding some new bits to familiar rides, Terry had been studying the local map intently for hours before heading to the start point. It's amazing how a few extra twists and turns can make a well known ride seem quite different but it is definitely getting harder to do this as time goes on.

So the Leader headed east over the A19 into West Allotment for the first twist which took the crew by surprise when he initiated a short, sharp climb into the field behind Cobalt. However, as soon as poor Arthur had pushed his bike up the last few metres, the ride was immediately led straight back down to the back lane again. Tee hee. We crossed the Silverlink access road and climbed a few winding paths to the Sundial, where once again no sooner had the last man arrived than Terry was diving off the south side to swoop down the fast grassy slope to the little duck pond. He then led over the lower slopes to the Waggonway before heading around the substation perimeter and waiting a long time at the far side after the man behind had stopped to move a few tree branches. Softie.

We had another largely unsuccessful rummage through the few trees alongside New York Road where someone fell off a dirty great bicycle designed for beach use rather than off-roading then headed down through Murton Village before yet another new addition to our trail list was added, again taking the old regulars by surprise but providing a fairly long field trip on nice narrow strip of bare earth. Eventually that led us into the middle of deepest, darkest and uncharted Shiremoor before the RL took another unexpected turn through the middle of the village and out into the fields on the east side, where we ended up popping out on the new bypass. What a navigator, only one dead end so far.

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We crossed the dual carriageway onto the track beyond and around to the back road into Earsdon. After easing gently up the hill to the village it was FSA all the way down the path heading north to the old pit heap. There was a short stop there as someone's tyre needed re-pressurising, and on resumption Terry's plan to scupper Dan's early move in the wrong direction backfired as he correctly guessed where we were going. Next stop the top section of Holywell Dene, just into the west side where the enexpected end to the race had a few back wheels locking up. The next 15 minutes were spent playing in the trees as those who hadn't been before, and indeed those who had many times enjoyed the little drops and jumps until the whistle was blown.

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Time for the next subtle direction change as Terry headed out on the high line outside the trees but still following the Dene's line as we searched for a safe way back down but didn't find one. That put us on the wide path to the bridge, and another regrouping before, for the first time ever, he was the first man through the whole length of the regular trail, although there was plenty of huffing and puffing going on at the far end. As we gathered at Andy J's jump spot it became apparent that at least half a dozen folk hadn't turned up, and there were no twinkly lights to be seen looking back from the highest point. It was several minutes before an LED came into view through the trees with Dan and Mike the last to arrive, not sure what the problem had been but it was time to move on.

We crossed the Whitley Bay waggonway and lifted the bikes into Phase Two where TK kept to the high line followed by the more adventurous, with the rest following the riverbank to meet further along the valley. The drop that we took was probably the gentlest and most straightforward of the half dozen possibilities, but at least we all got down safely for once with no spills. A wee bit further up the road, Mike's suggestion to tackle the path on the south side was a surprise as it's a bit of a tortuous route with some hike-a-bike involved. However, the leader agreed to go for it anyway and after he'd completed a very lonely romp through to Old Hartley he was a wee bit annoyed to see all but a handful (a handful which including the new Westerners) of the others touring down the road after missing the last half of the trail completely! Yet more mutiny, when will it end?

We headed for the Lighthouse next, Terry still up front and leading around the skinny ribbon closest to disaster along the clifftops before joining the path down to the causeway and parking up on the island for our tea break. With Lucy stuck in heavy Tyneside traffic somewhere we were without her luscious offerings but Dan had brought along a box of bite-sized Brownies which went down very well as a temporary stand-in. Ten minutes chat and we were off to beat the incoming tide, and also the cold wind which had begun to rise again. We stayed on the road out to Whitley before the leader once again led the charge through the Cemetery trail, alone again for quite a while in Whitley Lodge estate. Next came another completely unexpected off-shoot as he dived down the slippery gravel path into Briardene, accompanied by plenty skidding and shrieking at the lower tee junction. We did a very short loop in there, scouting for more hidden treasures but had to settle for the undulations over the field back to the main road.

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There wasn't much left now, so on the way up Monkseaton Drive Terry was anxious to capitalise on whatever was left. However, Peter had shot straight over the Sainsbury roundabout heading for home in Shields, while the leader wasn't going to let one wayward soul spoil his plan and turned right, eventuually to be followed by Colin and the rest, slowly. He then proceeded to locate the entrance to the final race opportunity and skedaddled into the trees on the wiggly path which follows the road up to West Monkseaton. Once again he emerged alone at the top, gasping for breath before eventually being caught by the peloton for the tarmac return through South Wellfield and Shiremoor, arriving back at the Cave at 10:02 pm after a fairly well paced 18 miler. 

Pictures courtesy of Mark Sweeting

here's the 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 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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