Thursday 29th January 2015

Are we Cool or what?

In a word - very.

Once again a cold, crispy evening awaited those unwilling to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous television programming.

The Gollum's night began with a visit to the Cave from new recruit Mahmoud, whose rear Shimano brake had lost all of its feel. Closer inspection revealed it had lost more than that. So 15 minutes later we had it emptied of all that nasty bubbly atmosphere, refilled with lovely mineral oil and jamming the rear up nicely when applied. The pair left the relative comfort of the now-carpeted cave for the barren wastes of ASDA's car park to meet - loads of folk!

Sixteen riders for this one, and Lucy with her usual backpack brimming with tonight's offering, flapjack. She's a bit of a specialist with this so it was guaranteed to be A1.

While we still await the return of Ian A (the Speedian) to resume his name-taking and ride-leading duties following a mystifying absence of some duration, tonight his copycat alter ego did appear in the form of Ian A2! Christened "A2" because he shares the Speedian's name to avoid confusion, its been a year or two since this Ian rode with us, resuming his place tonight right on my back wheel in the fastest and trickiest parts of the ride as he always did, this really skilful, quick rider isn't one you want pushing you hard from behind (does that sound OK or rude?). Still has the same bright blue Spesh hardtail.

Our latest crop of new talent, the majority from the general area of Westerhope, were out again tonight having not been discouraged by last Thurdsay's brutality. They are (thanks to Dan who married names with bikes for me) James Graham (Giant Trance), Chris Thompson (Trek Fuel EX8), Adam Tuff (Trek X-Caliber 29er HT) and David Chambers (Boardman HT).

Now then, who could I nominate to be Ride Leader tonight? Colin got the immediate vote, leading the gang around to the Hangman Hill gate while Terry nipped back home for his water bottle. Rejoining the group he sped off down into the Country Park where we did one lap of the Maze before heading for the foot of the Hill and losing five or six of the party immediately.

Once we'd gathered again (these brilliant LEDs have more than one use), ALWAYS look for the Bat Sign in the sky if you ever become detached in the dark - however this did NOT work last Thursday! we headed back to the lower western slope of the Hill again and charged through the singletrack, waiting for the last man again before dropping down what looked like an icy chute behind Colin then heading over to Benton Farm.

We took the Waggonway to South Gosforth but jumped off at the Freeman Hospital into the blackness of Castle Farm where one of the new lads (Adam?) had a puncture. That took some fixing with the ridiculously massive 29 inch tyre proving a right git to git back on its humongous ice-rink sized rim. What a stupid idea these hoola hoops are (sorry, on my soapbox yet again).

It's been a while since I raced down the BackRoots and it was a bit lumpier than I remember, maybe they're a bit more exposed now due to the effect of weather, but I almost lost it on one of the bigger tree feeders trying to stay ahead of the chasing pack. Must give that rear shock another injection (CBR Excess out tonight).

From the bottom of the singletrack we took the tarmac path back up and out onto Castle Farm Road before crossing into the skinny trail around the top edge of the Dene. The steep drop at the far end took a few folk by surprise and one or two felt it safer to carry down, although from below that looked much more dangerous than riding. There was a wee bit of squealing in the background as those who followed the leader got so very close to the Burn on the way along its edge trail by the Stepping Stones but we didn't lose anyone.

Terry stayed up front through the Dene until we hit the "closed road" barrier, erected following a klandslide, after being almost pushed down the steps by the ever-pressing Ian A2 at the Watermill. We had to turn back over the adjacent bridge to get to Pets Corner and our Flapjack halt. Lush, 11 out of 10 again Lucy.

We were ready to roll again after 10 cold feet minutes but had to hold up while Ian A2 borrowed Dan's spare battery, then we were off behind Colin again climbing to the town end of Armstrong Bridge. Up top, Terry took over and chose the first, faster drop down to the Pets Corner Bridge and from there we retraced our steps up to Paddy Freemans Pond. A slight scare there when Dan thought he'd lost his phone and backtracked a few hundred metres, only to discover it in his back pocket!

The Coxlodge Waggonway was used again to get back to Coach Lane, but we squeezed through the hedge and over the fields this time instead of taking the easier gravel path, just for a change. The Forest Hall branch branched off at the NUFC Training Ground with the rest following Whitley Road back to ASDA, arriving just before 10:00 pm with 12.5 miles clocked by Lucy, trace below:

Lucystrace

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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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The bigger the group, the louder the laughs!

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