Thursday 8th January 2015

See Ride Diary for those present on this ride.

It's been quite a while since I scribbled the last ride report due to circumstances outside my control - those being: no-one offered anything while I wasn't doing the rides!

Anyway, with another full season of Cycle Speedway racing fast approaching for me, for the third year running I'll be missing most of the rides, or at least most of the Sunday outings. So I thought I'd better get back on track (pardon the pun) and at least give you something to squirm at.

lucyscake Before continuing I must repeat my previous "Thank You" to Doctor Lucy Brain for her single-handed idea and effort in running our Christmas party so successfully, and raising over £400 for the Club. That will keep the web sites running for another few years and take the financial weight off the poor pensioner. Not only that, but she turned up slightly under the weather tonight to bring another sample of her wonderful cakery to be shared by all at pit stop time! Truly a modern day Heroine.

Unsurprisingly a New Year tends to bring out the odd new rider, or old ones who've been in hibernation for a good while and made some sort of Resolution. Those in the latter category appearing tonight were Adam and Lee, the former missing for well over a year or two ("Don't ask") and Lee Evans (work) for a couple of months. Great to have them both back out again to help make this look like a proper Thursday Nighter like they used to be.

Our brand new members are David Chambers, Cameron X and a young lady called Xanne Janssen. Could really do with my right arm, Ian Anderson back as he's a master at digging out information and storing names! Anyway, let me welcome all three of you to NMBC and I hope we see a lot more of you all.

What I'd class as "occasional" guests tonight were Jon Bayley on his fully rigid, singlespeed OnOne thing and Simon Joicey on his Anthem with a wobbly back wheel.

The wind was a determining factor in the route planning for this ride, blowing nicely from the west and expected to cause havoc. After a short consultation with Mark Sweeting (OK, I was trying to pass the buck) "we" decided to head west, always a good idea to tackle the wind head on if you can't stay out of it altogether.

First stop, the Clousden singletrack, a dependable little leg warmer if half of the Great Lime Road isn't enough (it is for moi). New man Cameron chased me through there on his borrowed Kona hardtail, followed by the rest a little way back. That was me just about totally expended, but surely this is the best way to get rid of the flu?

We crossed the fields to the Killy Lake single where Mark shot off to be some distance ahead, but of course he's here every night practising his lines and did take the sneaky south trail which is way easier than mine! Up the road at Camperdown roundabout there was a reluctance to be first along the railway trail but Arthur took the helm as the rest eventually filed in to try and catch him. Next stop Weetslade where Terry took his favoured singletrack route south of the main drag before dropping off the slope and heading up the hill. Yes, I kid you not, he actually volunteered to climb it and even led the way! The wind was measurably stronger up at the drill bits where we stopped to induce some thin oxygen, then it was Mark and Jon who led the search for the top of the Wabbit Wun which is now well overgrown with bracken and gorse - ouch!

As is the norm, the quicker lads (and/or those more used to squeezing down this section) got down without too much fuss but they left havoc in their wake with quite a bit of walking being done, or attempted, through the thicker greenery at the top accompanied by a lot of brake squeal. Eventually we all got down more or less in one piece. A nice peaceful cruise towards the Seaton Burn bridleway followed with the final corner chopped off by Terry in favour of the muddy field to save a few pedal strokes.

Another regrouping followed as we crossed the old A1 and continued up the path into the woods. TK couldn't find anyone to take the front so he led off with Jon pushing hard for a very enjoyable but again for the Ride leader a somewhat tiring blast through the trees and down to the side of the A1 proper. Something must have happened behind him at the half way point as he was alone at the far end for almost half a minute, but there were no tears as the others eventually emerged from the trees.

We crossed the little bridge from where Ian Mundy took the lead for the gallop across to the Big Waters fishing pond, and he got so engrossed in trying to shrug off his pursuer that he shot straight past our intended turn-off over the wooden bridge! Good to see that his recent little crash sequence at the indoor cycle speedway session hadn't slowed him down at all.

We left the pond and set off along another favourite short stretch of slightly illegal towards Hazlerigg Village, but it lasted no more than 15 seconds as we found ourselves popping out onto the adjacent playing field way too early. So TK circled the wagons until everyone had popped out of the trees before leading them straight back in again for the first error of the night. Reaching the end of the correct trail he noticed a hole in the fence opposite the normal exit, and took a wander down to check its state. It looked rideable so we did, but it meant lifting the bikes over a rough stile a bit further on and was immediately recognisable as a path to be normally avoided!

It was tarmac all the way over to Havannah Reserve for Terry to lead off in the absence of Mark Ramsey, our local expert, and he made a right hash of it, first performing a few decent short loops but then ending up atop the wrong hill (of the three possibilities) for our snack stop! never mind, it was still reasonably sheltered. We'd been there about ten minutes when the tops of the trees started swaying madly above us, so time to clear off before Hell arrived. We were just about to leave when that awful call went up - "Puncture!". Cam's Kona was the culprit, and he didn't have a spare tube, so at least Terry's load got lighter by one strip of rubber although his brilliant demo of CO2 cartridge use wasn't that clever.

We stuck to the road all the way down to Wideopen with the wind at our backs. Terry then led into Gosforth Park through the hole on the fence to maximise what was left of the ride home, and we were threading our way through the fallen trees when mechanical number two rose its ugly head. I wasn't aware that Grant Brooks was on borrowed machinery tonight, and it was his mount that let us down this time, just as we'd started to pick up speed on a clear section of trail! Just as well really, as this was also the first time I was informed we'd lost three or four off the back at Sandy Lane due to someone's light failure!

Anyway, the borrowed bike turned out to be a scorcher of a Yeti, all shiny and new. Except, that is, for it's frighteningly expensive and super-fragile XTR rear derailleur which had shredded itself following a twig attack, absolutely unavoidable in this terrain. Most rear ends are substantial enough to shrug it all off. Not these little Japanese works of art however - way too flimsy from being pruned to the absolute minimum at manufacture for racing and hence weight-saving. That left Grant pondering how empty his wallet was about to become in order to fund a replacement.

Jon offered to push Grant around the outside of the Park and meet us at the far end, but the next time I paused in the trees to allow a regrouping, he had left us for home and Grant was running/scooting through the shrubbery on the crippled Yeti and refusing help. What an athlete!

The final romp through the trees was very enjoyable, the trail in immaculate condition so the roots could be blasted over without sliding off line. It took a few minutes for the whole train to emerge at the Drive and from there Lee, Deryck Brown and Terry took spells at pushing Grant back along the Great Lime Road losing no time at all over a normal, unspoiled ride.

Not one of our hardest rides but it did provide me with a much-needed full night's sleep for a change, so thanks to everyone who turned out for this one following something of a lean spell, numbers-wise, at the back end of last year.

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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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