Sunday 8th February 2015

Where did everyone go?

There were just two bikers awaiting my arrival at the Border Minstrel on this stunning sunny morning. If you wanted a banker you'd say Mark R was a cert if he wasn't at work, so that's one. Today's Mystery Rider was a young man called Tim, henceforth Tim X until I discover his surname. This was Tim's initiation with NMBC and his first ride on a brand new Whyte GE, lovely thing very much modelled on Mark's Stumpjumper.

Well, I'd hinted on a westerly direction for this so had to keep my word. We started by flying down to the Hotel to get rid of my surplus energy. Down at the car park it was indeed gone. The rest of this short ride would therefore be a(nother) chore for the Gollum. Yes it was. We managed to sneak through the latest building site at the Great Park and through a gap in the fence into the woods for an exhilarating anti-clockwise blast trying to keep Mark in view. He then led us out on a very nice singletrack we've been neglecting (because up to now we always exit left, but we can't do that any more due to the building work) over to Havannah.

Terry sneaked ahead to choose the first under-tree trail but it wasn't long before he heard Mark behind suggesting politely that this was NOT taking us west! Therefore a small correction followed before the Old Bod finally regained his sense of direction and aimed for the airport.

Once we were out of the trees and onto the Wolsington road Mark reckoned he'd seen a track on Google Maps that we hadn't used before, and within a few moments he'd found it. It was dead straight grassy dual heading directly toward the runways so we jumped on it and pedalled. That lasted for a couple of minutes until we reached the third and final field we had to negotiate.

What happened next made ALL previous MacMudbaths pale into insignificance, as the mushy, yellow glue beneath our wheels wrapped itself around our tyres, brakes and every possible orifice on the bikes, making them both impossible to push and extremely difficult to carry. I swear mine was three times its normal weight and it took me ages to drag it off to the side of the field where I recognised a thin strip of almost normal grass. I kid you not, and both Mark and Tim will back me up, this was no ordinary mud. So it took a wee while to reach the far side and another wee while to get the wheels turning again before we rejoined our normal route to the flying machines from Brunton Lane.

The tarmac felt great! We headed into Wolsington and crossed the Metro line, treating Tim to as many surprises as we could on the way, although he'd just experienced the biggest one. When we crossed the Callerton road we paused for a while before Mark led up the rooty singletrack where Tim's super-wide handlebars had some very near misses with the greenery. At the top Terry decided he didn't want and hadn't planned to drop to Newburn and the riverside. Mark then suggested a much shorter and less energetic return route so we crossed the road again short of Westerhope Golf Club before mosying through the remaining trees in the neighbourhood and dropping down to Hareydene.

No more nasty bogtrotting, no inclines to struggle up, just a straight line back via the Great Park. And that was just as well, because on the way along the side of the A1 towards Gosforth, the very recently repaired but as yet untested freehub on Terry's Trek decided to give up the ghost again, maybe for good this time. He managed to complete the gentle tour back into the Park but the bike wouldn't stand any hard pressure on the pedals and the final short lift had to be walked.

We sat in the brilliant sunshine outside the Border Minstrel and munched on our half-way snack, but for the Gollum at least, this was full time. Nice ride Mark, cheers mate.

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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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