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.