56.15 miles. Mostly off-road and hilly. Dramatic rear wheel blowout and a Red Kite soaring

I’m out for breaking my own records these days for mileage!!

After last Sunday’s 48 miles on the flat but with short cranks I was pleased to take delivery of my new front chainring and cranks so instead of 145mm (kids) these are 170mm (adults) so hopefully I’ll be able to ride more efficiently and not suffer with sore knees. I changed them midweek so was itching to get out to try them. I did have the dilemma of SPD’s or flats with bear traps – the SPD’s just looked wrong so flats it is – but much reduced ground clearance. As I had family commitments I thought my only chance was going to be the Bank Holiday Monday.

Mrs B was running the Race For Life on Sunday morning which we attended as a family and I must say I was really impressed she came in the first 20 runners – go girl!!!

As we weren’t doing anything on the Sunday afternoon and the children just wanted to play in the garden I took the opportunity of a quick shakedown ride to the cafe except it turned into a 19 mile ride – the bike was riding really well 🙂

I put the word out amongst the boys to see who was up for a ride on the Monday when the forecasted weather looked perfect. Only John Bell could make it for one reason or another.

This time we were not only going to ride further, but it was going to be mainly off-road (tougher) and was basically a 25+ miles climb to the Parkhead Station cafe (there’s no surprise), over the moors to top of Crawleyside Bank followed by a faster 25+ miles return trip. All part of the C2C route but we were doing it in reverse.

I collected John from his estate not long after 8am and we setoff heading on the road towards Swalwell where we would join the Derwent Walk. From there it’s ash/chippings all the way for 25 miles and it’s also a gradual climb to 1450ft so this was going to test me and the bike and John!!

The sun was out, and it was windless, perfect 🙂 we carried on up through Rowlands Gill before eventually reaching Consett. This is where it starts to get exposed over the moors. Just out of Consett there’s a bridge called Hownsgill Viaduct – which, when we were young and daft John and I ‘bridge jumped’ off – what a buzz!! The bridge which stands 175ft above a valley floor with no river has unfortunately become a ‘suicide hotspot’ with 1 death every 2 weeks. The council have therefore installed anti-suicide fences which look awful but unfortunately needed.

Hownsgill Viaduct, Castleside -Ex suicide hotspot

Hownsgill Viaduct, Castleside -Ex suicide hotspot

Then we pushed on to our halfway point which is Parkhead station cafe passing Smiddy Shaw Resevoir to the right on our way. Those last few miles became tougher once we were exposed the headwind and the temperature dropped dramatically.

Smiddy Shaw Resevoir

Smiddy Shaw Resevoir

Then we could see the cafe 2.95 miles further on so we pushed on with me in the lead until suddenly I heard two ear piercing screeches and I thought it was fighter jets going overhead and looked down to see flat back tyre. John had been following thought I had locked up the back wheel as there was a huge cloud of dust thrown up which was probably caused by the 100lbs of pressure I had in them. I got my tools out and turned the bike upside down old school stylee much to the amusement of John who thought it was a great excuse to rest, eat and take photos of me struggling with the non quick release aprts and complex gear setup on the rear. We both donned our jackets just to keep warm. It was soon obvious to see that the tyre had a split across the tread where something (probably sharp stone splinter) had gone in and caused the damage. I patched it up, rebuilt the back end and we were soon on our way to the cafe .

Fixing the puncture

Fixing the puncture

Fixing the puncture

Fixing the puncture

Fixing the puncture

Fixing the puncture

It was then a case of the final mile to the cafe which was absolutely overrun with cyclists completing their C2C adventure and soon people came to ask questions about the bike and couldn’t believe I’d be attempting what they were on a 40 year old kids bike ha ha. We sat outside in the sun having our drinks and we were in the shelter of the cafe – very pleasant 🙂

Chopper with horse sculpture Parkhead Station cafe

Chopper with horse sculpture Parkhead Station cafe

Parkhead Station cafe

Parkhead Station cafe

A gaggle of C2C'ers Parkhead Station cafe

A gaggle of C2C’ers Parkhead Station cafe

We drank for a while and chatted to many of the cyclists who probably thought I was nuts to even contemplating attempting the hills they’d conquered until we donned our helmets and off we set. Downhill with a tailwind , this was going to be fast and very testing having a 16″ front wheel on top of loose surface – I was going for it.

We absolutely bombed down the Waskerly Way back to Consett (one of the miles I averaged 19.6mph) where we stopped for more photos… I was overtaking everyone in sight from MTB’s to tourers – I had them all  🙂

The Turner Prize winning "Terris Novalis" sculptures by Tony CraggThe Turner Prize winning "Terris Novalis" sculptures by Tony Cragg

The Turner Prize winning “Terris Novalis” sculptures by Tony Cragg

The Turner Prize winning "Terris Novalis" sculptures by Tony Cragg

The Turner Prize winning “Terris Novalis” sculptures by Tony Cragg

The Turner Prize winning "Terris Novalis" sculptures by Tony Cragg

The Turner Prize winning “Terris Novalis” sculptures by Tony Cragg

Then we pottered down through the park in Consett  and down to stop on the 9 arches bridge at Derwent and were lucky enough to see one of the red kites soaring on the thermals – magnificent.

From there it was down to the River Tyne, across the Scotswood Bridge and follow the north side of the river east to … THE CYCLE HUB CAFE – ha ha

Bumped into a couple of friends down there, Rich and Anji. Anji wanted a go on my chopper  but looked shaken when she came back with the realisation of how inefficient brakes used to be.

Then it was back home for a bike clean down (to get rid of all the dust) and replace the back tyre – ready for next time

For details of the route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/308970390

Thanks for the company John, you’ll be thanking me when we do the C2C !!!

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About barneybear69

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