First outing of 2013 and cycling with a saxophonist – try saying that after a couple

I’ve been itching to get the Chopper out all this year but every weekend seemed to at least be wet and ‘she’ doesn’t do wet!!

Forecast for this weekend was good though so I was determined to go out and also keen to increase the mileage.

Every time I venture out on the chopper I always seem to have one or more fixings which seem to come loose and I can’t carry all the tolls and the bike doesn’t have (intentional) quick release parts like modern cycles.

So, I hatched a plan. I would head down to the Tynemouth and then all being well up the coast to Blyth where I’d arranged I’d be met by Mrs B and our children (giving them the opportunity to visit Ridley Park) and to then put the bike on the carrier for the return trip.

There were also some other things happening which if planned correctly I could coincide with:

  • A friend of mine, Anji Rippon is running various races this year to raise money for Tiny Lives Charity and they were starting one from Baltic Square at 10 so I could catch the start of that (which I did) – interested in sponsoring her? It included a runner carrying a Smeg fridge strapped to his back – and you think I’m bonkers??
  • The Cycle Hub Cafe were due to have the first bike jumble of the year.
  • My plan was to cycle to the Baltic to see the runners then over the Millennium Bridge and on the the cafe where I would top up on refreshments before heading down the river to Tynemouth.

The weather was perfect, not wet, windless and not too cold. so off I went. straight down to the Baltic to listen to the runners final briefing then onwards to the Hub with all the stalls already laid out I would drink my cuppa sitting outside whilst punters came past and asked me about the bike.

One guy (who I knew from ) came to ask where I was headed, the beach I replied and he said there’s a fella on a road bike (Stuart) who is going the same way but doesn’t know the route. I briefly spoke to the roadie before he headed off with my not far behind him and to my surprise I actually caught him up so he asked if I minded if he tagged along – not a problem.

We exchanged stories (whilst avoiding the broken glass grrr) turns out Stuart Johnson had ridden across from his home in Penrith the previous day and stopped at his daughters in Shotley Bridge and was now heading down his others daughters house in Whitley Bay to attend his grandsons birthday – good effort Granda 🙂

Turns out Stuart is a Saxophonist and a list of his achievements can be found here:

But more importantly (to me) he’s doing a (cancer charity) trip around the Scottish coastline (2000 miles over 2012/13) and this was part of his training – checkout his blog at and donate if you can

Anyway we cycled down and I took the liberty of going out our way slightly to show him the Pedestrian Tunnel under the River Tyne ( he seemed very interested in.

Eventually we reached Tynemouth and I phoned Mrs B as planned only the then make too quick a gear change and throw the back sprockets off – unfortunately not a 5 min fix on a Chopper (but all sorted when I got home). So I sent Stuart off on his (birthday party) way but not before he took a photo of the Chopper with the Priory in the background and I sat outside a cafe on Tynemouth Front Street awaiting my rescue and subsequent trip to the park with the children.

Excellent, entertaining company thanks for the ride Stuart

Not the longest ride in history but enjoyable and varied all the same.

A couple of improvements I’ve done over the dark months:

  • I now have a 1.75″ less treaded tyre on the back supplied from a friend in Cornwall – this should help with rolling resistance
  • I’ve also finally managed to purchase the red gear slider indicator so at least I’ll know which gear I’m in.
Photograph courtesy of Stuart Johnson

Photograph courtesy of Stuart Johnson

About barneybear69

'middle aged' cyclist from North East aiming to do the LEJOG in August 2011
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