After a good night’s rest (thanks to Valerie) this would be our final day, a day which I would be VERY familiar with as it’s one of my regular return training rides.
Unfortunately as Ian Poppleton and Richard Nutt were booked on a train from Sunderland that evening they would be on a time schedule which they couldn’t miss and they chose to finish in Sunderland rather than Tynemouth (which we would). Great breakfast, again including Valerie’s home made bread rolls – filled the spot. We bid farewell to Ian and Richard as they headed off on their way – it was a great pleasure to ride day 2 with you both – maybe another ride in the future beckons???
The rest of us mulled around getting attacked by midgies!! The choice today was steep technical (but shorter) climb off-road out of Rookhope or the longer road climb of Crawleyside bank. I’ve done both before and I think th Crawleyside climb is easier. Anyway we chose the off-road route which would soon be over with and that would be our final climb of the 3 days.
Off we set and it soon became apparent that Choppers don’t make ideal MTB’s so I’d be taking up the rear and pushing some of this. Jed was off in the distance followed by John then Carl, Ian and then me. I could see Ian was struggling with the technical nature and having to stop for breathers/gather his thoughts. About half way up Carl fell off (still clipped in) which gave me a chance to pass them, take a photo and hurl some abuse then ask if he was OK. They both ended up pushing the remainder of the climb (behind me).
Once on the top there’s a track which has been dangerously rutted for years where your bike would disappear into water filled bomb holes and the track is so rutted you can’t get both pedals horizontal to clear the sides.
Anyway, on we went with the first planned stop being at the Parkhead Station cafe which is where we bumped into lots of the girls again – they’d chosen the drag of climb that is Crawleyside.
Lots of photos, tea, cake banter. Then we were off down the Waskerly Way – I was determined to be flat out as I raced down from the cafe, twice the bike became totally broadside whilst Ian was following me but I didn’t let that deter me and kept on it, overtaking loads of cyclists on the way. I was meeting Richard Manley-Reeve, one of my close colleagues who is new into biking and very keen to be out on it. We met up then off we shot – he later said he couldn’t believe the speed I was getting out the bike 🙂
Over the Hownsgill Viaduct and popped out into Consett which passes through the park (worth a visit) and before then joining the Derwent Walk which would take us down to the river Tyne. The girls stop was planned for Ebchester then they would go down to the Quayside Bar (Newcastle Quayside) for champers etc. We passed through Derwenthaugh Park with its lake then across the Scotswood Bridge to end up on the north of the river and along the Keelman’s Way before we dropped onto the welcome site of Newcastle Quayside where we would be stopping for lunch at http://www.thecyclehub.org/ Bacon butty and coffee – £3-75 – bargain 🙂
A group of male cyclists who had seen us day 2 were also there and asked if they could finish with us which wasn’t a problem at all (except they must’ve set off after us). We made our way down to eventually come out at Tynemouth and down onto Little Haven Beach where we were met by Simon. Jed’s wife, Carl’s dad/daughter etc
We ‘dipped’ as is tradition and also had our obligatory photos taken (I’m not shy about getting mine taken)
Well done to our squad and also to Ian Poppleton and Richard Nutt who had made it to Sunderland before they took the train home. It was a great feeling to finish but also a little sad that this particular adventure was over.
I said this was my 2nd best cycling trip ever, only beaten by my Lands End to John O’Groats of 2011.
I hung around to witness all the girls finishing together – they should be very proud of themselves and deserve to raise loads of money for the Hospice.
The route and stats for the day http://connect.garmin.com/activity/333103384
I then had 14 miles to cycle which I found tough’ish as I’d past the finish line and also knowing our excellent adventure was over.
I’d like to thank the drivers who got us to the start and picked some of us from the finish, The hostels we stayed in, The Hospice girls and other groups along the way with their encouragement and all the sponsorship I’ve received – it’s still not too late http://www.justgiving.com/c2conachopper – DONE!!
SO WHAT WILL BE NEXT YEARS ADVENTURE??