Thursday 9th

Two On The Trot!

Yes at last, two consecutive rides with that old "full house" feel, having 15 riders a few days earlier at the Forest of Ae followed by this moonlit romp where 22 souls turned out on a fabulous evening, much more like old times. Grant had made the fastest ever time from Cramlington to ASDA after finishing work quite late and having to scramble his gear together to get to the start in time, whereas Fiona took the same length of time to travel a few hundred metres from Palmersville! A lady's privilege.

Great to see Alun back, the new Truck taking up several parking spaces in ASDA's car park. He's really tied up now with his littl'un hammering the opposition in junior Downhill competition country-wide so not having much free time to do weekend rides, and too late home from work for regular Thursdays. Tonight he was accompanied by much better half Jen making a rare night ride appearance. And welcome to another rare visitor, Mike's son Ross having his Easter break from Uni, his last NMBC outing being last summer. Shame Dad hadn't screwed his Marin's back wheel on properly causing an unexpected halt as we emerged from Silverlink 20 minutes later! Now what were we doing at Silverlink when the target was somewhat further north of ASDA? Long story, but this is a short one so make your own mind up. And before I forget, Justin was also out tonight, and I believe he was testing out a new theory that the dimmer your light, the faster you go in the trees.

OK I'll come clean. Yes, TK in his wisdom had decided on Plessey Woods for this little adventure as it's been a wee while since our last visit. However, because of the appearance of irregular guests tonight he thought it best to kick off with some off-roading first, and also to compensate for the inevitable tarmac coming along later. So a couple of Silverlink loops were initialised and we probably spent a few minutes we didn't have in there. Just after leaving, on the waggonway up to Shiremoor, Mark S was having chain skipping issues on his Stumpy which prompted his request to travel via Killingworth so he could change bikes. Well, that wasn't quite as straightforward as it might have been from our current position, but divert we did. On leaving Backworth on the approach to the A19 Killy junction, Xanne got a flat tyre so we spent a wee while waiting at the start of the refurbished Wabbit Wun track. It seems the tyre was a bit stubborn and didn't want to go back on the rim. I seem to recall a similar problem on Xanne's first ride with us in Northumberland, unless she's heard about Jon B's world record for the longest puncture repair in history and has her sights set on a new one.

Dan set Mark away homeward, arranging to meet him in the field behind his home at Greenfields. When we'd been rejoined by Xanne and mechanic Colin we headed west into the top of Killingworth but with Justin up front and Terry mid-pack, the leader didn't know about Plan B and continued up the hill towards the pond. Meanwhile, Terry turned left up to Hillheads before turning again to get to the pre-arranged meet. Fooled you. Mark was already on the tail of the group so we skirted the east and north edges of the field chasing Justin down to the edge of Burradon and regrouping under the trees. next stop Annitsford and after a pow-wow between Alun and Terry, the former took the lead to guide us through Dudley and over the East Coast main line to Damdykes where someone got wet, smelly feet in the damn dyke. I blame Dan for that.

We got really strung out on the next section across to Cramlington Garden Centre after Dan had stopped to chat to a couple of potential new members, who are apparently mates of Andy J. They weren't wearing helmets tonight but of course they'll have to if they come out with the Club. There was another regrouping there before we headed down to the fast field drop to Hartford Bridge, where once again a bunch of unsuspecting souls had entered the park and crossed the river. haha, folled you again! Yes, after a further chat with Alun, Terry scampered off upp the hill and turned towards Bedlington with the rest eventually following, only to find the front runners already camped outside the Hall estate up top. We decided to make that our bait stop as it was really quite late now, way too late to cover the intended ground in a decent time. And that was because the previous discussion outside the chemical factory at Bassington was somehow mis-interpreted by Alun (this is where he gets the blame for a late finish folks!). Terry's revised plan, taking the current time into account, was to head over to the water works at East Hartford and do the woods before wiggling home through Crammy. With Alun nodding in agreement, off we went but ended up at Plessey Checks! Too late to put it right, so after some of Lucy's delicious flapjack TK was off again into the quiet, eerie singletrack heading for Bedlington.

Second man Ray called a halt before we got really into it as there was a long tailback, so we gathered the troops and then let rip along this superb, and tonight just moderately squidgy winding sliver of earth. It's way better done in this direction than the more favoured east-west direction with a lot less climbing as the trail follows the flow of the river. The drops were very fast and the roots made sure there was no relaxing as we headed for the sluice where we made another stop to gather everyone again. The following wide, swoopy path to the Humford stepping stones was a real blast and I really enjoyed criss-crossing Colin's back wheel as we hurtled along the riverbank with pedalling very easy but progrees extremely rapid. In fact, progrees had been decent all night which was just as well, as we were now still ten miles from home and it was almost Friday!

Terry was first to find the way out of the creek, climbing steeply up from the riverside and having to hump the Trek over a fallen tree near the top. The old earth trail was soon reached and the long train of twinkly LEds eventually streamed out onto the Bedlington road. We regrouped there before heading along toward the Spine Road where Ian led down the tarmac to Boghouses. We'd travelled all the way to the roundabout at the foot of High Pit when someone alerted us to a problem further back, and sure enough a head count produced only half the expected figure! This explains how Terry did an extra mile and a half as he then rode back to the junction at the Three Horse Shoes to find Alun's bike upside down and a puncture repair in progress.

We set off to rejoin the lead pack but only half the athletes followed Terry up the singletrack beneath the trees, preferring the tarmac. Strange folk! It was getting quite late so that was probably their deciding factor, although they were still waiting for the treehuggers to emerge at the top of the trail so no advantage gained. From there we kept it very simple, heading straight along the road to Moor Farm roundabout and on through Annitsford before turning up to Burradon. That just left the waggonway up to Killingworth Lakes and the tortuous home run along the Great Lime Road, reaching the starting point just before 11 pm with way more miles than intended clocked up.  

Well done Jen for resisting the temptation to stop off at home on the way back past her front door! 

  

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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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