Thursday 4th

Thursday 4th

Skills Shortage!

Only nine of us on a perfect biking evening, bone dry (tarmac) with a southerly breeze. We followed the recent though somewhat fortunate trend of keeping the ride on the right side of 10:00 pm as we headed inland away from ASDA at around 7:10. The initial loop through the maze to warm up was met with a huge obstruction half way in, a very substantial fallen tree completely blocking the trail, before further small scale wind devastation was encountered further in. Although the Mad Axeman (Dan) was with us tonight he wasn’t hauling his chainsaw but we’ll need him in here some time soon.

We left ASDA by the bridleway up the side of Whitley Road but for the sake of change, dropped down Station Road from Davidson’s car sales to hit the Benton Farm waggonway and continued, again with a slight change from the norm up to the Powder Monkey before turning into Haydon Grange and then down the bike path to Wills’ on the Coast Road. A bit more tarmac got us along to Armstrong Bridge where we started looking for the trees, and promptly lost half of the party as they descended too far into the park while five of us had stayed high after the initial steep descent.

We waited a while then backtracked to commence search and rescue, seeing their LEDs down below helped considerably. On the way back up the hill, Deryck put a wee bit too much pressure on the Lapierre’s pedals and snapped a link, as well as putting a bit of a twist in another one. No comment. Five minutes later we were off behind Dan who’d found another few seconds worth of soil to ride on which took us through the side door of the little drop spot, normally a dead end if approached from the west as Matt normally does when he’s here (see the sorry saga of his broken OnOne 456 carbon hardtail on Facebook). It was just after this that Dan also managed to snap his chain on another of those short but very sharp gradients on the lower path.

We tried a few more little loops alongside the main path before I decided to head for Heaton Park and repeat the exercise. Our first bit of exploration took us up high close to Heaton Park View seeking a trail Steve thought he’d spotted, but on arrival only Dan was brave enough/bothered enough to do the steepish drop towards a muckle fallen tree trunk. We did find an easier and much more enjoyable way down to join him before once again there was a bit of group separation under the trees with bikes going in all directions in an attempt to create a meaningful path through the undergrowth. Once half way down we followed Dan up to the tower before again dropping through the greenery a bit further along than before, trying to use as much clear off-road space as there was available.

Next stop, proximity to the park gates and another of Matthew’s short alternative sections before plunging back down all the way to the road in the Vale with Dan again out front. That’s when I took over and made the biggest mistake of the night when leading up Fore Street to the block of high-rise flats, leaving us no option but to take that massive staircase up into Jesmond in order to do Matt’s hairpin trail back down to the Ouse Burn again, the fastest part of tonight’s ride reached just as you emerge from the tree line.

Staying in front I led down to the riverbank and a few seconds later there were gasps from behind and a little squeal from me as I came extremely close to toppling into the raging torrent after misjudging the stone steps and leaning too far right – new boots with new cleats took a few more microseconds than normal to disengage - phew, that was a close one! The second section was well blocked by another large tree so we kept to the path and popped out under the bridge for our cake stop. Fabulous as usual, thanks Lucy.

Time to head home now, back up into Jesmond before dropping down the Headbanger over two more fallen trees into Pets Corner and weaving our way along to Castle Farm Road where we climbed out of the Dene to drop down the steps a bit further along. Dan turned for home here while the rest of us took the Ministry waggonway over to Coach Lane. We only made one more stop on Whitley Road when Lucy’s bike seemed to seize, just the result of mud causing chain suck on the Anthem. Back to ASDA at 9:50 pm.

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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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