Sunday 24th

Wow, what an upturn in the weather all of a sudden! From -2 degrees on Friday night to +6 on Saturday made jumping on the bike a no-brainer (I have no brain, see). So although the number turning out was surprisingly small it was great to see Tim back out again, I don't often get the chance to ride with him these days and he's always got something new or an idea to rave about. Those present:

John Rivers - YT
Ray Foster - Norco
Ian MUndy - YT
Deryk Brown - Lapierre
Tim Burdett - RadonMe - Trek

We got a later start than anticipated due to John's SRAM 11 speed kit requiring some adjustment in the car park at ASDA, Benton. We got away around 9:45 ish, heading straight through the main bridle path to Battle Hill and over the A1058 into Wallsend Burn. We took the fastest way down to the bottom and crawled up the bank to the Green before weaving our way through to Hadrian's Way cycle path along the river. I wasn't sure if there'd be any uptake of my offer for people to join the ride at the Millenium Bridge so we didn't hang around in getting that far, although the pace was steady rather than quick. Of course there was no-one else around when we got there, so over we went to follow the Keelman's Way on the Gateshead side of the Tyne. We did pause for a wee play around in the trees this side of Bill Quay Farm before heading up into Wardley and crossing under the bypass onto the waggonway. It was quite a heave all the way up there into Springwell where we finally came to a halt and paused for a quick snack and photo break.

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Tim sniffed around the old pit remains for the most interesting bits and we had a few minutes of fun circulating the drops and climbs behind him before leaving through the village and turning downhill into Washington, managing to find an off-road route for half of the trip. It didn't take us too long to find the little fun park we've spent ages in on past visits to Usworth but unfortunately, though not surprisingly, it was suffering the same level of claginess as the rest of the UK and we couldn't get up to our normal thrashing speed through the trees. The very greasy surface did increase the level of danger on the swervy bits between the trees though so it wasn't totally dull.

The next bit however, back up to the Follingsby roundabout, proved a real stinker. I'd hoped that the under-tree trail would have been decently rideable but again was disappointed, and we all found it a struggle to get to the end. Then there was the problem of a very greasy 60 degree slope to climb before we got up to road level at the roundabout itself - not at all easy in these conditions. I think we were all glad to see tarmac again even though it covered the vast majority of this ride. We struggled through the final piece of what used to be passable singletrack but is now overgrown with bramble. Thanks to Ian here for saving my bacon, stopping me from flying straight into barbed wire I hadn't spotted as we all looked for ways past the obstructions.

Back out into Leam Lane we jumped back on the waggonway we'd used to get up here and headed for Jarrow with Tim's local knowledge proving very useful as we bypassed what would have been unnecessary extensions to the ride and stayed mainly off-road. By this time we just wanted to get home! We didn't have long to wait for the Bike Bus at the Jarrow side of the Tunnel where Tim left us and were soon adding a stretch of 30mph MTBing to our Strava traces! Felt a bit guilty about the crap left on the seats. That just left the waggonway back up to Silverlink where we'd normally indulge in a last bit of dirty stuff but not today. Ian left us at Silverlink while the remaining four had to suffer the worst gusts of the day on the way along Whitley Road to ASDA where we discovered our slightly more than planned 34 mile jaunt stats. Needed that.

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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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