Last post I was considering wrapping the Chopper up for winter (2013)

A year crammed into one blog post

Just over a year ago I last made my blog post and in it I was considering wrapping up the Chopper for the winter months. Well, that never happened due mainly to an ultra mild winter meaning I could continue riding he bike at weekends throughout the year.

2013 had brought about a few changes for me namely leaving Northumbria University and the starting at LSL (Your Move/Reeds Rains), still based in Newcastle. At the end of the year I also qualified as a Sky Ride Leader which meant I would be responsible for taking
groups of people on organised shortish (up to 30 mile) bike rides from June – November. It’s free for any member of the public to sign up for one, just checkout This has changed my outlook on cycling where I receive a lot of positive feedback about our sport and it’s certainly widened up my circle of friends.

At the end of 2013 our local newspaper, The Evening Chronicle wanted to do an article about the Raleigh Chopper and asked for an interview which I duly gave:

At the end of it I said I was looking for a Tomahawk for my 7-year-old daughter and a  Budgie for my 4-year-old boy. I was fortunate to be contacted by a friend who offered me a Silver Jubilee Edition (1977). but that only started Jude asking when he would get a Budgie, it’s not as simple as that son. Eventually, I managed to locate a suitable purchase in Hartlepool.

So now we are a stable of 3 retro iconic bikes 🙂

3 Retro, Iconic Raleighs - Cycle Hub Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

3 Retro, Iconic Raleighs – Cycle Hub Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

As I said earlier I’ve been leading organised Sky Rides in Newcastle area since June but during the year each of the Sky sponsored cities have their own BIG ride which is a day of cycling events in and around the city. 8000 riders signed up for the Newcastle event. Unfortunately, the day before the ride the Met office forecast torrential rain in Newcastle and it turned out ‘only’ 3000 riders turned out. As it happened it stayed dry all day until the event finished… then the rain really came down.

Bradley Wiggins bike Vs Iconic bike

Bradley Wiggins bike Vs Iconic bike

I spoke to a few of the other ride leaders and some of us (Bronwen,  Max and myself) decided to take the train down to York for their big city ride a month later to meet and support the York ride leaders.  York was still buzzing from their success hosting the start of TDF so not surprising 10,000 riders had signed up and the weather was glorious all day. As we arrived at the start line I was asked for a few photos which I’m always happy to oblige. Then we tootled down to the assembled start line where the press asked for a photo of ‘the chopper man’ and the Lord Mayor which I duly obliged. Then they asked for one with the pro rider (who I didn’t know at the time). Turned out to be none other than Russ Downing who rode for Sky last year and NFTO this year. He asked if I was happy to lead out the ride with him only then to be told he was only doing the first 500metres before looping back. So it left me leading 10k cyclists on a route I’d never ridden – what could possibly go wrong. Actually nothing went wrong, had a fantastic day out.

From L-R Lord Mayor, Me, Russ Downing (Team NTFO), 10,000 other cyclista

From L-R Lord Mayor, Me, Russ Downing (Team NTFO), 10,000 other cyclists

Russ Downing - Team NFTO

Russ Downing – Team NFTO

Big rides 2014

Ride for Red June

I was contacted by someone who was aware I’d completed the Great North Bike Ride on the bike in 2013 and asked if I would do the Ride for Red, a 60 mile ride from Seahouses to Newcastle Quayside which followed and inland route unlike the coast hugging of the GNBR. It was a select field and instead of making up the numbers I thought I’d have a go to see how fast I could cover the ride up against some of the proper roadies. Turned out I was in the first 30 finishers – I can live with that.

If you get chance to do the ride, don’t hesitate, the organisation is great, the riders friendly, the route doable and scenic and the hospitality at the end is by far the best I’ve seen on any ride I’ve ever done , top marks to Claire Blake and the rest of the organisers.

Cyclone 6/14

My first attempt at the Cyclone (the biggest cycling event in the North East) in 2013 had been a cautious one as I had just built up the bike and I was having a few teething issues with the gears so only entered the 35 mile ride which I managed with ease. This year would be different, My daughter Hannah 8 wanted to do the short ride with me but after careful consideration I thought it too far for her on a single speed bike with 20″ wheels. So I couldn’t ‘just’ do the 35 again I would have to up the anti and go for the 67 miles middle route which takes in the infamous Ryals climb, a climb feared by many cyclists.

I arrived in plenty of time at the start and was soaking up the atmosphere when one of the Shimano team mechanics asked if I’d done it the year before which I nodded and he told me they still had the photo from the start. I explained I would be tackling the Ryals at which he shook his head and wished me good luck.  Then a guy and a videographer asked to do an interview as they were looking for different types of cyclists (read: eccentric) where I explained 67 miles wouldn’t be a challenge ona normal bike (of course it is) .   I knew the Ryals were near the end of the ride so I deliberately didn’t go out all guns blazing leaving myself nothing left at ‘the hill’. There was still one major hill before we got there which caught out many of the riders and they pushed it. one big effort from me saw me crest it to a well-needed feed station at the top. Then it was onwards until I eventually reached the bottom of the biggy along with loads of other cyclists on their ‘normal’ bikes ranging from  MTB thru hybrids to full on carbon road bikes., but not one other chopper. Off I set away gritted my teeth and went for it.  I must say it gives me inner strength when I saw other cyclists pushing up the hill on all sorts of bikes. Eventually I made it (and there are photos to prove it), fisting in the air in delight. I must  admit if it had been a couple of degrees steeper I may not have made it. Off I tootled to the food station at Cambo where I met up with the Shimano mechanics again who would eventually tail me all the way to the finish.

One weekend in October I suddenly started getting tagged on Facebook in a video which turns out to be the promotional video for the 2015 event and it has me as the cover and contains some of my interview within it.

The Ryals - Grimace or Smile?

The Ryals – Grimace or Smile?

The Ryals - Conquered

The Ryals – Conquered









Top of the Ryals

Top of the Ryals


Great North Bike Ride(GNBR) 30/8

3013 I had been really quick (for aChopper) covering the 60 mile route at an average 14.9mph. This year I was aiming for a faster time. Alas it wasn’t to be, as the headwind gods were against us which slowed progress significantly. So yes, a slower ride but enjoyable all the same. Same again next year

The start at Seahouses

The start at Seahouses

Rob’s race for the disabled

I often get invited to join in big bike rides mainly due to the publicity the bike will draw. There was one ride I was asked to join in for the week prior to Children in Need when a disabled cyclist, Rob Groves was hand-cranking his trike from Edinburgh to London calling at the BBC studios on the way. He was after 50 able-bodied cyclists to join him for the last 3 miles into the studio which would be with a police escort. This meant meeting at Gosforth Asda and riding in. As I don’t do things by half I decided to head up towards Kirkharle where I would meet him and his 2 friends followed by his crew in a camper van. Sio I turned around and joined in, using my local knowledge along the way. As we came in to Ponteland we met up with Max Hall with quite a few other riders who were pitched at the cafe so they joined us and we were soon heading down into Gosforth and into Asda where we were met by the Police cars. Off we all set along Gosforth high street, bells ringing and the Police stopping all other traffic at junctions and road lights – fancy being encouraged to run red lights? Great fun and we were soon down to the BBC Studios where Rob had arranged to collect a Pudsey Bear. All the other riders retraced their tracks and headed home but I navigated us through and across the Tyne, through Gateshead and stopped near the Angel of the North where I wished them well and bid them farewell.

A few days later and Rob arrived at the London Studios in time for the live screening – huge congratulations to him and his team.

Chopper and trike

Chopper and trike

If you want to read more:


A non-chopper ride – Border Reivers

I also organised for a group of friends to do a long ride this year on ‘normal’ bikes. This was the Border Reivers, Tynemouth through Kielder before eventually finishing in  Whitehaven. It poured down for 3 days but we still had a great ride . Thanks to John, Ian, Jed, Carl, Tony for a great weekend of wet cycling.


Although I signed up with Strava a few years ago, I never really used it in earnest. so for 2014 I decided to try and log all of my rides just to see how many miles I clock up in a year. At the time of publishing,  I’ve completed 1,729 miles which are not bad for a bike taken out normally only taken out one day most weekends. Add to that 4,000 on my touring bike for the year.

Website stats

Despite the fact I haven’t updated the site in a year it still gets regular visitors who search for the most iconic bike you could find resulting in 22.5k views to date. And my has passed through 65k views.

What’s the plan for 2015?

Well, as if a 40 year old bike isn’t enough I’ve recently bought a 50yr old (1964), 3-speed, Moulton F-frame bike which is yet another British built marque. I’m sure I’ll be taking out for spins in the coming year.

If you fancy joining me for a ride you will often find me @Pedalling Squares Cycle Cafe in Swalwell enjoying their hospitality or feel free to drop me a note on the contacts page.

Or of course you are always assured of a warm welcome on any of the Sky Rides

Some random photos from 2014

Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge



Tyne Bridge - Sage

Tyne Bridge – Sage

Raleigh Chopper - British Cycling

Raleigh Chopper – British Cycling

Chopper socks

Chopper socks

Tynemouth Priory

Tynemouth Priory

Inside of my Sturmey Archer

Inside of my Sturmey Archer

About barneybear69

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