Thursday 30th

An extremely cold night for those containing pre-1960 body material. And a correspondingly low turnout surely due to that, with a mere 12 bodies meeting at ASDA to await Terry’s decision on tonight’s target. Once again he’d been studying maps all afternoon and had formulated another plan to include yet more un-visited terrain to the east of start point.

And again Ian A (version 2) miraculously caught us up after missing the car park exodus. Welcome again to Nathan, Lucy was back from her globetrotting and Alan seems determined to keep the Yeti active once more after it’s lazy few seasons in the garage.

Easterly it was as we headed out past the Cave to Holystone Roundabout and crossed it on the way over to Cobalt. The Hill was skirted along its lower edge with a couple of small grassy diversions to get the blood pumping, and then we were spat out onto New York Road.

We crossed that and turned into Doggy Doo but managed to avoid anything sticky as we sped through the skinny and crossed the mound before ripping down onto the waggonway. There’s yet more housing development along the side of the old line now and it won’t be long before we have to become roadies if the trails keep vanishing. B@st@rd greedy landowners and thicker than pig sh:t councillors.

Ah, that feels better. Oh yes, the ride…

We rounded the field to the Stables, bone dry ground presenting rapid progress and a nice surprise with its stable and no longer boggy surface. The Leader shot straight over the little lane and into the field opposite, skirting the big field while bouncing off the tall rape seed flowers almost overgrowing the narrow strip of earth around the edge.

The sharp little chute up to the Earsdon Pit waggonway was hard enough to climb on foot, but Dan had a dig mounted and came a cropper for his efforts, the overhanging branch just too low to allow safe passage.

It was plain sailing from there to Holywell Grange where Justin took the helm for the straight but quick and enjoyable skinny around two fields before we re-joined the normal trail for the drop into the dene, but only after a mere handful of Brethren (and Sister Lucy of course) had joined Terry in a short diversion down to the side of the river and straight back up again. More mutiny, to be expected!

And moments later when another mutiny WAS expected, it didn’t come as both Terry and Ian rode straight past the Playground – where could they be heading and why are they bypassing the best bit?

The answer came soon after, but not before Lucy’s left hand crank fell off for the second time (originally back at ASDA!) but replaced fairly quickly by apprentice mechanic Dan (who had done the first fix – duh). Next came a rapid spin around a pond somewhere, but I won’t say where as we were lost (oh yeah?) and may have been on a footpath.

Our next waggonway intersection was crossed and Ian took the lead towards the Monument where Justin steered us through a few gates to keep us away from the private grounds of Delaval Hall and get us onto the Seaton Sluice road.

It was then Terry’s turn to play around the sources of Lysdon Burn amongst the rough jumps and berms, avoiding said jumps but enjoying the rest and leading the others a merry dance over not one but two large gullies followed by almost the same in reverse. Then Dan and he led the grassy but very firm field-side retreat up to New Hartley for a few mixed-up laps of the closest clump of trees.

We left there heading for Hastings Hill and after a quick loop through the first copse we stopped at its edge for a snack. That’s where Lucy produced surely her top-ranking delicacy, some sort of mixed up rock cake (name coming later with luck) and poor Dan had the misfortune to discover which path dogs preferred across the grass.

Justin dropped off the hill in front, just as darkness began to fall after a fantastic sunset, and of course he still had no illumination with him – third ride in a row riding blind so he must be on some sort of masochistic romp. This was followed by a certain amount of accidental mis-direction by Terry which resulted in the inevitable dead end and U-turn in that order. Luckily Mike knew exactly where the intended next target lay and raised his arm like Moses – that way!

He was spot on, the RL now seeking out “a pond in some trees” which must have been an accurate enough description for Mike to get it right first time. We gathered at the instantly-recognised entrance to the next copse and Terry led in for yet another challenge with Dan, the two and inevitably everyone behind having to ride almost flat on the bars to avoid the low overhead greenery, some of which hurt much as it refused to budge willingly for flimsy human extremities to pass underneath. During the short push up over the multitude of ripples in the hillside we met a pest control man with his rifle and dog coming back down, so didn’t quite know what to expect further up.

There were the remnants of either a vagrant’s home or a chav party hangout up there, a proper mess of plastic bags, glass bottles and tin cans. We turned again just after it and Dan again became the chaser as Terry led the descent, and another rapid but a little scary flat-out run under the trees in the prone position, hard work and not good for tender guts.

It was time to head for home now so we cruised up to the Treeline and back along it to Double Row and after we’d crossed the line at Mare Close Terry eased in front again and headed for the Mummy. When he reached it he hauled the Trek over the wooden footway and clambered up the hill, soon being overtaken by Ian A pedalling up it and being followed by a few more fit bodies.

Next stop the top of the Whoop-de-doos where we regrouped for the descent, not aware of Mike below who’d avoided the climb and was about to get a brilliant video recording of our descent. See Facebook.

I think Colin headed for home at this point but maybe a little later in Seghill. Meanwhile Justin suggested using the short drop opposite the whoops to get us into the village and headed down. Terry was third in the queue but came to a rapid halt in the half way dip when his right eye was shot with clarts after, incredibly, he’d just removed his CLEAR glasses! That almost caused him to hit the greenery and it took a while to get some vision back, by which time everyone but Nathan had vanished.

We tried guessing which way they’d gone but with a total of three tarmac and two woodland possibilities we chose the wrong ones and three times had to retreat out of cul-de-sacs! So the RL decided it was best to return to the old trail and our usual exit point at Middle Farm. We caught the others at the start of the Red Shale Trail yon side of Seghill where Dan became Justin’s lamp carrier as we travelled fairly briskly up to Backworth, Dan narrowly avoiding the trail marker post while trying to light the way past Justin’s ample shadow!

Justin turned for home here while the rest of us headed over the A19 and paused at the gate to Holystone Farm where Ian B, Dan, Alan and maybe another continued straight on to Forest Hall, Lucy again leading the charge down the dual track to the farm, and we were back at ASDA close to 10:15 pm with just under 20 miles clocked.

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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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The bigger the group, the louder the laughs!

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