Club Run report (Elsdon) Sunday 31 August 2014

AS forecast, it was a superb morning with sunshine and warmth, even at 9am. Special kuedos went to Mike Wyngard who had worked all night and made a breif appearance before hitting the hay. 15 Cyclists appeared a Chester market place and we decided to head north, with the all-dayers citing Elsdon which we haven’t done for about a year. Having negotiated the chaos that is Blind Lane roundabout roadworks, we had a relatively easy passage through Gateshead with the light westerly wind evident at times. As usual Blaydon Rugby Club was busy with its car boot sale, but we headed up Throckley Bank and, for a change, turned right at the top for Ponteland.

Once past Ponteland we were in the lanes, and Richard Barnett and Steve Hughes went to the front. Having past Ogle and turned into the wind, they powered away at about 18mph and then got a few shouts to slow down! We skirted Belsay and then followed the Tyne Vagabonds Mountain Time Trial course through Scot’s Gap. At this stage we were down to five, with everyone else having turned for home, including Ian Gardner, Trev Atkinson and Richard Barnett. This road is quite demanding, constantly dipping and diving with few places to keep a rhythm. You cross the lifted railway line to Rothbury no fewer than four times!

Having safely passed the tight left-handed at Forestburn Gate, we shortly afterwards left the main road (and the Vags course), passing upwards through the forest and following the south banks of the River Coquet. New member Mike Kebell was going well, and Graeme Bradford, Dan Lydon, Steve and myself did well to keep him reined in. The descent off this ridge is technical and tricky, and yours truly managed to perform a rear-wheel slide in the gravel but somehow stay upright. We then joined the road between Rothbury and Elsdon, rejoining the Vags course once again. A couple of miles later we started the Vags timed ascent of Bilsmoor. It is not that steep but deceptive, given the numerous ramps upwards. Mike took the honours at the top and we then descended to Elsdon for a well-deserved lunch at the 60-mile point.

Arriving around 1pm-ish, the cafe had finished its lunchtime peak and we were served quite quickly. This is a famous cyclists’ cafe and is still very good value. There is usually a good bit of banter between cyclists, and also the two owners who are characters. At about 1.45pm we departed, delicately finding our way to the bottom of the Gibbet (in other words, I forgot which turn it was!) and then attacked from there onwards. The Gibbet is a great climb, and one of those where you think you’re at the top and another ramp rears its ugly head! Mike and myself battled it out for the honours, but a characteristic late attack by Steve did the damage and deservedly won the accolade. We had a side to tailwand from the top, and Steve took off, closely followed by Mike. I was stuffed and waited for Graeme who very kindly towed me along at a constant and very impressive 30mph and we just caught them before the junction. Having passed through Cambo and vaulted over the humpbacked bridge beyond Wallington Hall, we decided to return via Capheaton and the lanes. We were working well at this point and Dan and Graeme did memorable turns at the front (with Graeme managing to line everyone out). Having passed Wallridge X and Black Heddon, we turned left and the road becomes quite scruffy and potholed here. Unfortunately I punctured before Dissington Hall (much to the relief of others!) and we all had a breather in the sunshine while I changed tubes. Having joined the Stanfordham Road close to Darras Hall, we then had a pleasant and uneventful return to CLS and our respective homes.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the spin – we were more-or-less equally matched and there was little waiting around. The day was excellent for late August and the long hours of daylight offered the chance to do the ‘ton’. Peter Scott