Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Party At The Drift Cafe

The Drift Cafe at Cresswell has, in a very short space of time, established itself as one of the Backpedalers' favourite watering holes.
 When we cycle North we either head for Newbiggin or Cresswell. Although Bertorelli's at Newbiggin is an excellent cafe they don't do bacon sandwiches and this is where the Drift Cafe has the edge even though it adds ten miles to the trip.
The cafe is located on the north side of the village and the Coast and Castles Cycle Route (NCN1) passes right outside the front door. A feature of the cafe is its extensive menu.

Normally we opt for a bacon and egg sandwich but the specials on the menu always look interesting.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A Visit To Daft As A Brush

Three Backpedalers called in at the Gosforth Headquarters of Daft As A Brush Cancer Patient Care to discuss our decision to support the charity as part of our Cycle Challenge 2015.

Brian Burnie, the founder of the charity, was present and was keen to explain the importance of the work they do. We didn't need much convincing but it made us realise that we'd made the right choice when selecting them as the charity we'd raise funds for.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Famous Last Words

Everyone does it - say things they later regret - and we cyclists aren't immune. What is surprising is that the same people say the same thing over and over again and don't seem to learn from previous mistakes.
Weather conditions are never far from the mind of cyclists but we are used to going out for a ride in comditions which are less than ideal. If we waited for the perfect day we wouldn't get a lot of cycling done. One of our greatest bugbears is windy conditions.
How often have you heard someone say,
"The wind is against us now but it will be in our backs on the way home"?
Wrong! That's the perfect example of Famous Last Words. What is certain is that a headwind on the outer journey will become an even stronger headwind on the return journey. It's one of the laws of cycling. It doesn't matter whether it's northerly, southerly, westerley or easterley. Basically, all winds are againsterley as far as cyclists are concerned and as your ride progresses and you become more and more tired the wind in your face gets stronger and stronger.

Monday, 25 August 2014

We Went To Blaydon Races .........

We didn't plan to go and the date was wrong but one of the joys of cycling can be stumbling on the unexpected.

One of our regular routes is to cycle along NCN 72 (Hadrian's Cycleway) to Wylam. By way of variety we often cross the bridge at Wylam and cycle along the south bank of the River Tyne as far as Newburn bridge before crossing the river and rejoining Hadrian's Cycleway for the journey home. In the past two of us have, on separate occasions, stayed on the south side and continued to Gateshead and the Millennium Bridge. It's fair to say that neither of us enjoyed negotiating the streets of downtown Dunston and weren't keen to repeat the experience. A chance encounter with another cyclist changed that. He said a new path west of Newburn bridge was open and that the route was much improved. It seemed worth a look.

Our outward journey included the obligatory stops for a puncture repair at Segedunum and a bacon sandwich at the Cycle Hub and upon reaching the bridge at Newburn we crossed over and began the journey to Gateshead.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Cycling can present many challenges, steep hills, strong head winds, hard saddles and inconsiderate motorists being amongst them, but an added hazard can be Man's Best Friend, the dog. More accurately, it is not just the Best Friend but also the Man (or Woman) accompanying them who is part of the problem. Most of my rides take place along waggonways, cycle paths and bridleways which are very popular with cyclists but also very popular with dog walkers. On a recent trip to the Cycle Hub and back, a distance of about thirty miles, I counted the dogs along the route. On the way there I passed fifteen dogs, five of which were on the lead, and two cats (neither of which were on the lead) and on the way back there were thirteen dogs (seven on the lead) and no cats. This is fairly typical in my experience. So what? Why should this be a problem to a cyclist?

Those of you who use Strava, the mobile app, for logging cycle activities will be familiar with segments. They are a specific section of a route created by users for the purpose of comparing performance over time. One segment on NCN 72 is called Dog Dirt Dash. The reason is obvious. Not all owners clean up after their dog. As well as having a spare tube and a puncture repair kit in my bag, I also carry latex gloves - just in case I have to remove a tyre which has passed through something nasty.
Of course some dog owners do clean up - but get the final step wrong.
Hedgerows are festooned with discarded dogs' colostomy bags.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Cycle Challenge 2015

The weekend of 23rd - 25th May 2015 will see Seaton Sluice Backpedalers undertake their third long distance cycle ride. The chosen route is from Edinburgh to Seaton Sluice along the Coast & Castles cycle path following National Route 1, a total distance of 186 miles.

The breakdown is as follows:
Day 1 - Edinburgh to Melrose, 55 miles.
Day 2 - Melrose to Purdy Lodge, 69 miles.
Day 3 - Purdy Lodge to Seaton Sluice, 62 miles.

According to the Coast & Castles Guide, this is the wrong way round. Most people start in Newcastle and finish in Edinburgh. The reasoning is:
  1. The prevailing wind is likely to be south to north, and
  2. Edinburgh is a nicer place to finish than Seaton Sluice!
The first point is highly debatable. As regular cyclists in the north-east of England we are aware of trends in wind direction and are prepared to take our chance. If we're cycling into a head wind we'll get our heads down and get on with it. As regards the second point, what could be better than arriving home to a welcome from friends, families and supporters? Judging from our previous experience, the Delaval Arms is a pretty good place to finish.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Step Into The Unknown

Sometimes Backpedalers become a little adventurous and venture away from the familiar waggonways and bridlepaths. This adds a little spice to what could become another routine cycle ride.
The start of the route was straightforward - along the old railway line to Monkseaton Drive and on to Earsdon, Backworth and Killingworth. Instead of following Reiver's, a deviation towards Camperdown was taken. The roundabout at Annitsford had to be negotiated before cycling down the footpath into Seghill. From here, the Backpedalers went off piste. The track round Seghill Hall was the first challenge when it became obvious that long trousers would have been a better option than shorts given the abundance of brambles and stinging nettles. 
A brief stop to reinflate a softening tyre was needed before the rest of the route could be attempted.
The track towards Mares Close was next but instead of crossing the railway line, the group turned left to visit one of the areas less well known examples of public art.

Hadrian's Cyleway Photographs

Lots of photographs were taken over the three days of the Hadrian's Cycleway Challenge and these can be viewed on Seaton Sluice Backpedalers Facebook page. Visitors to this blog who do not have access to Facebook can now view the photographs on Photobucket by clicking on the following links:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

In addition, videos are available on YouTube

Day 1
Day 2

Day 3


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Presentation Evening

The Backpedalers got together in the Delaval Arms on Tuesday 17th June 2014 to hand over the sponsorship money raised by their Hadrian's Cycleway Challenge. 
Amanda Simmister was present to represent the Great North Air Ambulance Service and received a cheque for £5732.00.
This amount represents what has been collected so far. When Gift Aid has been claimed for some of the donations it is hoped that the grand total will be in excess of £6000.00. 

Backpedalers would like to thank all their friends and supporters for making it possible for them to raise this tremendous sum for a very deserving cause.

Cycle Challenge 2015
We're on a roll. Just when you thought it was safe to put the bike back in the shed, planning is underway for next year's event. The proposed route is the Coast and Castles Cycleway (travelling North to South - 187 miles) and the dates are 23rd - 25th May.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Domino Effect

Another Sunday morning, another Sunday ride.

Six Backpedalers assembled outside The Delaval Arms on a warm June morning with the intention of heading north on the Coast to Castles cycle route. The weather forecast was for a fine morning with the risk of a shower in the afternoon.
The route, by now very familiar to the Backpedalers, took the group up to Blyth, Bedlington, Cambois and on to Woodhorn.
The journey through Lynemouth was uneventful and in stark contrast to the group's last visit. (See Wet and Windy). Likewise the journey from Lynemouth to Cresswell passed easily and the decision was made to end the outward journey at the Drift Cafe.

This turned out to be a good choice as no sooner had the Backpedalers been served their coffees and bacon sandwiches when a group of about twenty cyclists arrived and filled the remaining seats in the cafe. It turned out that they were a group based in Newcastle who called themselves the Old Gits Cycling Club. They were on the second day of, in their words, a bastardised version of the Coast and Castles cycle route and had called in to the Drift Cafe before heading home.
The Backpedalers finished their refreshments .....
...... then paused for a group photograph before heading home.
The return journey took place at a good pace and was uneventful apart from one remarkable event.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A Sunday Morning Bimble

Sunday mornings are still the time set aside for a bike ride - 9.30 am meet at The Delaval Arms - and seven Backpedalers set off on what looked to be a promising day.
The aim was to have a pleasant, gentle ride in convivial company (known as a bimble) so the group started by heading south towards St Mary's Island and on to the promenade at Whitley Bay. A right turn at the Rendezvous Cafe led up Monkseaton Drive then on to the old railway line through Holywell Dene. Once The Avenue was reached, the group turned west, passed through Seaton Delaval then up to Mare's Close and round the north side of Seghill. The track past Jolley's led on to Fisher Road, Backworth Lane and a short stretch of the Reivers Route. From here, the group followed the waggonway through to Killingworth Village. 
The track down past Holystone School led on to a short on-road section until the turn into Rising Sun Country Park was reached.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hadrian's Cycleway Challenge - 24th - 26th May 2014

In November 2013 Seaton Sluice Backpedalers decided that their next cycle challenge would be Hadrian's Cycleway, a 180 mile route starting at Ravenglass and ending at the Delaval Arms, Seaton Sluice. Seventeen riders signed up and a three strong support team was recruited. This is their story.
Day 1 - Ravenglass to Silloth
The day began early. WATBus had been hired to transport bikes and their riders from the Delaval Arms to Ravenglass leaving at 6 am, so on a grey and miserable Saturday morning, bikes, riders and their luggage were loaded onto the minibus and its trailer.
In under three hours the team had arrived in Ravenglass. To everyone's surprise and delight, the sky was blue and the temperature warm, so bikes were unpacked and prepared for the first leg of the route.
At 9.44 am the team saddled up and set off.
Once the rather tricky bridge over the River Mite had been negotiated the cycle path was easy riding in ideal conditions.
Good time was made along a track which was well signed and despite the first puncture of the trip......
....... the team reached Whitehaven just before midday. Once in the town, one member of the team decided that staying rubber side down was for wimps and promptly fell off his bike. Coffee was needed.
The next landmark was Workington and again the path was easy to follow and easy to ride.
The path beyond Workington was equally straightforward and Maryport was soon reached. There is a newly opened section of the route just outside Maryport which runs alongside the B5300 and is traffic free but cyclists still need to be aware of potential hazards!
The next stop was Allonby where refreshments were available at the friendly local cafe.
By now it was late afternoon and the sky was grey with a hint of rain. The ride into Silloth saw the weather deteriorate and the rain arrive but not enough to dampen spirits or even require waterproof jackets. The team arrived in Silloth just after 5 pm.
Prior to the trip, Silloth Golf Club had been contacted and an evening meal booked. This proved to be an excellent choice particularly since Silloth does not have a wide choice of restaurants.
53 miles completed and everyone was in fine fettle.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Sunday Sun

It seemed like a good idea to plan a 60 mile round trip taking in some of the more demanding sections of the Reivers Route on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year so far - and to some people's surprise, that's exactly how it turned out.
Thirteen Backpedalers turned up for the twelfth training ride and set off towards Backworth and Killingworth to join the Reivers Route heading towards Ponteland. The now obligatory visit to the summit in Weetslade Country Park was included in the itinerary.

The route to Ponteland was familiar to most of the riders but beyond that was unknown territory. It passes through Darras Hall along the line of an old railway which ran to Belsay Colliery and then emerges on the west side of Ponteland. A short (but interesting) section then leads to a country lane which heads towards Stamfordham. 
It was here that the group arrived at what turned out to be the highlight of the day - a new coffee stop.
Raggy Heirlooms is right next to the Reivers Route and caters for cyclists in need of a coffee and bacon sandwich.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Six Go Cycling

In stark contrast to Sunday's outing, Tuesday was bright, sunny and warm as six Backpedalers set off to Ponteland along the Reivers Route. 

The path through Holywell Dene still showed signs of the recent heavy rain but once through Wellfield, Earsdon and Backworth and onto the Reivers Route, the journey became a pleasant ride along quiet country tracks. A short uphill diversion in Weetslade Country Park gave the group an opportunity to admire the surrounding countryside.
From there, on to Ponteland and the obligatory stop at Jan's Kitchen for refreshments. Along the way we managed to recruit another member for our cycling group.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Wet and Windy

In my last post I wrote about how conditions can affect how easy a bike ride is. Sunday's ride proved the point. Eleven members assembled outside the Delaval Arms in conditions which were a lot better than expected. The plan was to ride to Hauxley and back, a round trip of fifty miles, and the hope was that the ride would be completed in dry conditions.
Heading north through the dunes into a fairly strong head wind presented the first test. Once through Blyth conditions eased and the route up to Ashington was fairly sheltered. 
The group's arrival in Lynemouth was interesting and two problems were encountered, one familiar and one totally unexpected. Firstly, a member of the group had a puncture.
Secondly, the residents of Lynemouth appeared to be holding an impromptu rodeo in the main street.
Once those two obstacles had been negotiated the route continued north up to Cresswell and the head wind returned.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Two Weeks To Go

In two weeks time a group of elite athletes, each one at the peak of their powers, will attempt a feat which will challenge their mental and physical abilities to the limit. But that's enough about the Champions League Final. At about the same time Seaton Sluice Backpedalers will be starting their Cycle Challenge 2014, Hadrian's Cycleway.
The total distance is about 178 miles of which 71% is on road and 21% off road. From what I've been told and what I've read, this route (although longer) should be easier than last year's highly successful Coast to Coast ride. A word of caution. If there is a strong wind and driving rain it won't be easy. If there are multiple punctures and mechanical breakdowns it won't be easy. But these are worst case scenarios and hopefully everything will go well. Preparation is the key so knowing what lies ahead should help. Doug Ridgway has an excellent site on Hadrian's Cycleway which contains a wealth of useful information. (Doug has kindly given me permission to use the images in this post.)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Dirty Dozen Ride Again

The weather forecast suggested that it would rain but as the Backpedalers assembled outside the Delaval Arms the skies cleared and the temperature rose to double figures. The day was set fair for the tenth consecutive Sunday training ride.
Twelve riders prepared themselves for a forty mile round trip which would take them north along National Cycle Route 1 as far as Cresswell. (The gentleman on the right arrived on time but forgot to bring his bike).
The ride out was straightforward and uneventful and good time was made. 
The group arrived at The Drift Cafe, Cresswell at 11.20 am ready for bacon sandwiches and coffee, both of which scored highly on the Gaiger Gauge.

The return journey, which took in Cambois, Low Horton and the canal network of Blyth's South Beach Estate was as straightforward and uneventful as the journey out. There were no punctures and not one person fell off their bike. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Things Can Only Get Better

Today's report has been submitted by Ian (RN retired) who describes himself throughout as 'stand-in Captain' but from what I hear, 'fall-over Captain' might be more appropriate! - editor. Rumour has it that he has plans to buy a new bike.

Out of the two weather forecasts, light rain or sunny periods, the one which said light rain won but seven  riders turned up for the ride to the Hub. It was misty and raining but that did not dampen our spirits.

The seven of us set off in search of the Hub knowing that  our reward would be a bacon butty and a nice cup  of coffee.

The route was to take us down the coast to the Hub, through  the Fish Quay and up Borough Bank. There, as the stand in captain, I have to report an incident. One of the members decided that staying rubber side down was far too conventional and came to a halt and failed to remove their feet from both clips and thought lying on their side in a puddle of water was better than being upright.

This not being the first time this type incident has happened, the individual  managed to tuck in and no damage to bike or person was reported. After a short rest, onward to the Hub. One member needed to peel off at the Royal Quays so the rest of us pushed on to the Hub where we arrived wet but eager and in need of refreshment. Coffee and a bacon butty hit the spot, there was coverage of a cycle race being shown on some Internet channel, I have to  say the weather looked better there (where ever that was) than here.

Everyone now refreshed and ready to put our wet clothes back on and head for home, one member had a slow puncture in their back tyre which they put some air in to allow them to make it home. The group made it to Swan Hunters on the return leg when a member stopped again to put air into their rear tyre. At this point another member of the group pointed out that the front tyre was also flat. What were we to do? One machine down and both tyres with punctures. With the assistance of other members of the group the bike was turned upside down and the repair was attacked with gusto worthy of a formula one team during a pit stop.

(Stand in Captain's note : I have to offer mention in despatches to the two members of the team who formed the pit crew along with the member to facilitate the repair as it was the stand in Captain's steed which was in the pit).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cheaper By The Dozen

Twelve cyclists turned up on a sunny but blustery Sunday morning for the seventh consecutive training ride. The route took the group along Beresford Road, up the Avenue and along the old railway line towards Holywell Dene.

The short ride along to Monkseaton Drive was followed by the now familiar journey through Wellfield, Earsdon and Shiremoor before joining the Reivers Route to head southwards to the Royal Quays and Coble Dene. The Spanish Battery was the next objective but the climb up from the river had to be conquered first.