Putting the F’s back in Fun Factor (and a long overdue update)

As the (Chopper) season draws to a close I realise that following the C2C there are many adventures I haven’t documented and details I haven’t previously explained.

One thing I didn’t explain was that I added ANOTHER external gear, giving 3 in total x 3 internals so I fess up I now have 9 gears. I also changed the original 145cm cranks to 170cm adult cranks which gives more leverage but results in having minimal ground clearance resulting on having to be careful on fast sweeping bends for fear of ‘catching a pedal’.

So that’s the update about the additions to the bike and now to the 3 (major) rides I’ve completed since the C2C:


This ride and the GNBR are the two biggest mass participation events in the North East. It comes in 3 flavours: 33, 63 and 104 miles starting from Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club  – I completed the 107 in 2011 on my carbon road bike.

I erred on the side of caution this time so entered the 32 on the Chopper.

Mrs B dropped me off at the start after the 107’s had left but there was still lots of activity at the start with loads of riders and all the support teams etc. I met a few friends including Neil and Joanne Southern who were both going for the 67 on their ‘proper’ bikes. It wasn’t long before the bike had drawn a crowd and requests for photos of the bike. the funniest of which was from the official Shimano mechanics who were really pleased when I let them take the bike and get photos of them all with the bike in the Shimano tent.

Falcons chopper

Falcons chopper

Best of British cycling

Best of British cycling

Soon it would be start time and I headed off and soon was feeling good and from the start I was reeling riders in (I know it’s not a race). Heading out through Ponteland before the first charity/unofficial stop in Walton – cake and drink – oh go on then, in fact make that 2 cakes!! Again plenty of questions re the bike (which I’m always more than happy to answer/expand upon). Soon I was off  heading around Belsay, crossing the A68 towards Stamfordham this is where I ended up cycling (and having a great chat) with @sportbetty and her friend who were looking forward to the refreshment stop in Stamfordham. I stocked up on refreshments but also went inside to purchase coffee. From there it was only the return to the rugby ground and the finish to collect medal and T shirt etc and yet more photos. a few roadies came to speak to me and said they couldn’t drop me ha ha. Once I’d talked for long enough I cycled the 14 miles home via the Cycle Hub cafe

A very enjoyable ride I had!!

Stats for the ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/335887597

2 BIKE FOR BOBBY (40 miles)

A couple of my friends Richard Manley-Reeve and Anji Rippon (both new to cycling) entered this charity event which is aimed at raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson’s (legend)  charity.

I fancied a ride out so thought I’d tag along and provide company /be a gooseberry.

Start was anywhere between 8 and 10 so Rich suggested a meeting at 9 so off I set to cycle over to the start at the hallowed St James’ Park where I met Anji and Rich, both wearing their Newcastle tops.

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

I was surprised at the lack of participants but apparently lots of riders had left at 8. At the start line one of the organisers read out the safety info to us but became more interested in chatting about the chopper. Off we set at a rather leisurely pace but Anji seemed pleasantly surprised at the nice quiet country lanes we were using. First refreshment stop I stopped with the pair but didn’t dive in (as I wasn’t officially entered) but it wasn’t long before the helpers started asking questions about the bike (and being amazed I’d done the C2C on it) . Anji, being competitive was riding ‘at pace’ whilst I tootled along with Rich but I did chat for a while whilst riding with a roadie who had come down from Edinburgh to do the event – he also commented how fast I propelled the chop.

Towards the end of the loop we passed back through the refreshments again and had  a short stop and then headed off to the finish where there was a bit more activity. No sooner had we passed thru when 2 girls asked if they could get a photo of me with the chopper – as if that would be a problem 🙂

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Bike for Bobby

Details of the ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/362941683

From there we headed (again) to the Cycle Hub Cafe for a bacon sarnie and coffee to finish of a very pleasant ride.


1950 riders, riding 60 miles from Seahouses to Tynemouth down the North East coastline.

Mrs B again agreed to drop  off and to pick my friend John Bell (MTB) up enroute from the holiday accommodation he was staying at (around half way mark). The plan was for him to ride the first 30 miles with me.

The rendezvous worked well and soon we were heading to a very foggy Seahouses (but at least it wasn’t raining. We got there before the start and I must say I was surprised how many full on ‘roadies’ were there who were obviously ‘looking for a time’ even though the instructions clearly state ‘it’s a ride, not a race‘ and that’s what I was intending to do. John  wasn’t pleased with all the environmentally unfriendly buses, lorries and cars were used to get the riders to the start.

We let a few of the batches of 25 riders head off before we joined in on the back of one of the batches. Off we set along the road towards Beadnell and I was going at my normal pace (which turned out to be 20mph) as I chatted to some of the roadies on the way. When I looked back I couldn’t see John so decided to stop and wait for him which would happen a few times on the way down to his departure at Hadston. We came to the feed station at the picturesque village of Warkworth (with its castle) and it was bustling and thankfully the weather had improved significantly. A few refreshments and I headed off to the loo where I found @sportbetty (from Virgin Cyclone ride above) who was riding this route with her sister so we had a quick catchup. Then it was the only ‘hillock’ on the ride up towards the castle. Soon I was gunning along again until I reached John’s departure point at Hadston where we said our farewells and I headed off down the busy A1068 road to the roundabout and feed station at Widdrington Roundabout where I took on supplies but was going to the Barn Cafe 200 metres up the rise, determined to sit down and enjoy my food and drink. I purchased some hot savoury and a latte and went to sit on a seat (for ages) at the top of the rise so I could watch all the cyclists coming up – some seemed to be really struggling and many took the opportunity to stop and ask about the bike which as normal I was more than happy to comply with. From there it was a drop down to the sea front and along through Cresswell but no time to stop for ice cream unfortunately. From here I was determined to pick off as many as I could and I was flying. Down through Blyth (which must be the most unattractive part of the route) and again down to the sea front. Some riders were now walkers and pushing their bikes – 10 miles to push – ouch!!

I was reeling people in and overtaking them all the way to the finish at Tynemouth where I was disappointed to find only XL tops left (maybe all the lycra clad roadies had grabbed the ‘normal’ sizes) – next year I’ll not be hanging around and I’ll be finishing with them 🙂

Details of the ride can be found here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365031588

60 miles averaging 14.4mph then I cycled the 14 miles home – I’d had a great day.

These obviously aren’t the only rides I’ve been doing both on the chopper and on the tourer mostly long but also often – happy days.

The Chopper will soon be serviced and mothballed until next year – bit of a shame really 😦

About barneybear69

'middle aged' cyclist from North East aiming to do the LEJOG in August 2011
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1 Response to Putting the F’s back in Fun Factor (and a long overdue update)

  1. Adrian Campbell says:

    Hi Nigel, I’ve just come across your blog. I also have the good fortune to own and ride a Chopper, MK1 Yellow, just as I had as a 11 year old. My sister was very ill in 2012, so i imported this Chopper to use on a charity bike ride 216km this will be my 5th year after my 57th birthday on the Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer. The bike does have great interest from young and old, “I” or “my dad used to have one of those” are so common. Last year we had a fellow on a penny Farthing and he wasn’t that much slower than me.
    I have added a 5 speed sturmey, some hill claiming bars which are half way down the ape hangers, toe clips, round profile BMX tyres and a new rear rim.
    I also draw some quite satisfaction from overtaking the big bikes on hills, but even with the 5 gears I still struggle with the flats against them. I have thought about longer cranks but would have to forego the toe clips, (which I wear with trainers). I train most of the year on an 85 Inde hawk which I got from the free papers beginning 2012, and has enjoyed a red pray and showing off the natural chrome forks which someone had sprayed silver.
    The chopper isn’t the most comfortable thing to ride but I get such a buzz from being on it it makes it all worth while. My younger sister left us 8 days after that first ride, and my sister in law 5 hours before the start of the ride in 2013.

    All the best
    Adrian Campbell

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