53 miles and free wedding party CAKE

C2C is drawing closer so training is a must – we have 135 miles to cover and some big hills on the way.
This week’s ride would be up the Tyne Valley to the historic market town of Hexham passing through Corbridge on the way. A ride of >50 miles with one hill in it.
John Bell and Tony Stephenson were up for the trip and I persuaded Michael Charlton (MTB) to join us for his first ride out this year. He would join us at Newburn. I met John and Tony at the Hub cafe -where else?? And I also bumped into one of our other friends Geoff Clay who had been out for a quick ride with his mate and was tucking into a bacon sarnie in the cafe. He wasn’t tempted to join us. So off we set along the quayside where I was tooted at by a bus driver – I think it was my brother as he waved at me – I hope it was! We were soon passing the stalls along the quayside but not before a bloke shouted “I bet you are Nigel” – should I be worried?

We met Michael as planned at Newburn after he’d done a couple of warm up laps. Then we were off. After 200 hundred metres John stopped saying something was wrong with his rear wheel. He investigated and thought it at be the hub until I noticed the swinging arm was loose. Turns out he lost a bolt holding his rear swinging arm allowing the frame to twist. 3 of us re-walked our steps looking for said bolt to no avail. It could’ve been game over except for in true Bear Grylis style john took his multi tool to pieces and used the nut and bolt from it as a temporary fix. Game on 🙂

0ff we set along the Wylam Waggonway, unfortunately it also started to rain and it started coming down some 😦
Michael started to struggle on the hills (but it was his first ride) and by the time we reached Ovingham he decided to head back which was fine by me as I didn’t want him to sicken and I wasn’t expecting him to do 50 miles. He ended up doing 20 miles, well done and DO IT AGAIN!

The roads we used are very quiet and single track in places and really rather pleasant especially as it had stopped raining,  hooray. We climbed the drag up to just before the A69 then turned left and downhill towards Corbridge. I wasn’t freewheeling as fast as I thought then discovered I had a rear flat tyre. but headed into the the square in Corbridge which I’d never spent any time in but it is well recommended with an abundance of cafes and Grants Artisan Bakery which we made use of whilst I repaired the puncture.

Puncture repair in Corbrdge - PaperArtist

Puncture repair in Corbrdge – PaperArtist

There was an unusual number of tasty looking cars driving through the village Then it was along the back roads to Hexham over the river and into the riverside park towards Enna cafe which is in the golf clubhouse with a conservatory. Just as well we were intending sitting outside as the conservatory was closed due to a wedding party. I got the coffees in and then a guy came out asking if we still had coffee, which we did and be offered us a selection of cake and banofee pie … FREE. Absolute result 🙂

FREE Wedding party cake MMMM

FREE Wedding party cake MMMM

We nipped up into the town purely so I could take photos of Hexham Abbey.

Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey

The return journey was almost tracing our steps apart from a variation at Newburn so Tony could see the newly installed Blaydon Race statues and then on-wards home.

Blaydon Race Horse

Blaydon Race Horse

Blaydon Race Horse

Blaydon Race Horse

I clocked 53 miles averaging just under 11mph – the route and data can be found here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/312552178

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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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The test ride following the gear strip down – and crash into a drunk :-(

Well this is the time to see if the strip down of the rear hub was worth it or whether I’d still have issues. Saturday was a fantastic day, sunny, warm and windless, alas I couldn’t ride until the Sunday which wasn’t going to be as promising.
I contacted a couple of friends Carl and Tony to see if they were up for a ride and yes they were. So I arranged to meet at the hub (where else??) at 10. So off I set and immediately it was apparent I wasn’t going to be besieged by the issues of late. I was heading down the cycling and pedestrian path running parallel to the Tyne when I started approaching a pedestrian who was travelling in the same direction. I sounded my bell, lots, he stepped to the right so l went left between him and the fence which protects you falling in the river. Just as I got to him he staggered left, I shoulder charged him and then bounced off the fence. He was oldish and stinking of drink!!! But he said he was ok but blamed me. Anyway I set off down to the cafe realising my arm was sore. Meeting up with Tony on his cross bike and Carl in his MTB running semi slicks I started telling then the tale over tea then showed them my arm.

The damaged arm before the bruising and swelling

The damaged arm before the bruising and swelling

Off we set towards the coast and I kept apologising that it wasn’t going to be quick but they were impressed how well I was going. Down to tynemouth then headed up the coast to st Mary’s island then push on to Blyth where the weather turned really foul, windy, wet and cold. So we nipped into the cafe which was packed – we were stunned by all the punters. By the time we’d had our refreshments the rain had stopped (thankfully). I stopped to take a couple of photos

Blyth Beach Huts

Blyth Beach Huts

Deserted beach Blyth

Deserted beach Blyth

Then it was a case of retracing our steps back to the cycle hub cafe. I’m glad to hear Carl was suffering with bum trouble 🙂 and I was suffering with a sore knee – I couldn’t decide if it was down to the short cranks or possible impact damage – ibuleve gel had it sorted within 48 hours yaay

Another record set by completing 47.5 miles and the bike didn’t have one issue thankfully.

This week I’m expecting delivery of my full length cranks to replace the kiddie cranks – ride like the wind 🙂 🙂 🙂

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All the gear trouble calls for desperate measures – strip down Sturmey Archer AW hub

After last week’s ride and all the troubles I’d suffered of the chain being thrown every time I freewheeled I was determined to try and isolate/eradicate  the issue!!

The Chopper has never freewheeled very well (lucky if it turned one full revolution) so that made for hard work when pedaling. The problem is these are internal gears of the Sturmey Archer Aw hub and after watching and re-watching videos like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea6krXSs-lc I must say I was bottling even attempting it. But if I didn’t do it nobody else would (as it’s such specialist job) and I would still have the none freewheeling chucking the chain off machine which had been ‘so grueling to ride’ bike of last week 😦

So I watched the video  a few times more, I printed off in paper format as much linked instructions as I could and I decided to go for it once the children had gone to bed (as they’d want to ‘help’) I also had a bonus of my father in law Alan staying and as an ex mechanic and logical thinker I thought, 2 heads are better than 1 (which proved to be the case at one point). Anyway we setup the Workmate in the kitchen so if anything did fall off it should be easy to spot etc. and off we went.

Sturmey Archer AW Hub

Sturmey Archer AW Hub

This wasn’t going to be rushed as  just needed it to be right and sure where everything went back. We stripped it down very carefully laying everything out depending on left/right side of hub and from out to in so we could reverse the procure for the rebuild.  All the reviews say these are fairly bullet proof needing no maintenance- unfortunately they don’t factor in that grease breaks down over 40 years and needs cleaning and re-greasing which is exactly what we did. We only had one real concern where one of the tiny pawl springs (not much thicker than a human hair) became dislodged and it took quite a bit working out where it went back. We did get it back together and I can say proudly it now freewheels with the best of them so it was a job well done  – thanks Alan 🙂

Next post will be about the test ride….

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42miles and a boat load of technical issues :-(

For Sunday 21/4/13 I was determined to beat my 38.5 miles barrier by basically doing the same route and extending it.

During the week I’d fitted a new plastic spoke protector and felt quite confident I wasn’t going to suffer any issues which had also been the case in my previous 2 long rides.

I arranged to meet Carl (one of the participants in our C2C adventure) at the Cycle Hub to ride with me at 10. I was going to get there (4 miles) with my next door neighbour (Dawn) on her bike as she wanted to know the route(she would then return home retracing her steps).

We set off at 9-45 and by the time I arrived in the next street the chain came off but I couldn’t fathom why. This was going to become a familiar pattern until I  pinpointed what was causing the issue. By the time I reached the hub the chain had come off 7 times and some of the times it was getting jammed, either under the back mudgard or between the sidestand/crank and sometimes I couldn’t get at the split link as it was behind the chain guard – it was turning into a nightmare 😦

By the time I reached the cafe it was 11pm so it had taken 1hr 15mins to cover 4 miles – not good!! And Carl then told me he had to be back for lunch by 1 so we had a quick pot of tea and we were on our way. Sure enough the chain came off a couple more times and I asked Carl to lift the rear of the bike whilst I spun the wheel. It then became obvious. The freewheel on the bike has always been rubbish and wouldn’t do one revolution and it looked like it was pulling the derailleur forward and throwing the chain. Only one thing for it – no freewheeling at all – this was going to be hard – it was like riding a very heavy fixie 😦

Carl probably did 7 miles with me before having to turn around to head home for his lunch – I’ll make you ride harder next time!!

A video as proof of me riding the bike can be found here – thanks Carl for the footage

So I was on my own heading down towards Tynemouth and then along to the lighthouse. It was very odd having to brake downhills and having to still pedal – where’s the fun in that?

Once I reached the promenade at Whitley I could see the tide was in then the rain came so instead of doing the last mile to the lighthouse where there would be no shelter I opted to dive into the Rendezvous cafe on the front which I used to frequent as child with my parents . I remember them selling knickerbocker glorys (which I was never allowed) and there would be condensation streaming down the inside of the single glazed windows – NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!! I also got talking to some mods who were there on their restored Vespas. They seemed more interested in asking about the chopper and were stunned when I told them were I’d ridden from – not bad for an old bloke riding a kids bike made of scaffold tubes 🙂

Once the rain eased off I headed back without further incident and eventually back to the cycle hub  – there weren’t many cyclists out – I guess it was due t the inclement weather.

To add the little extra few miles I’d threatened I headed up to the Angel of the North because I had an idea of a photo (see below) I wanted to take.

Details of my journey can be found here

42 miles done!!!!!

 

Two Design Icons

Two Design Icons

On the positive side it forced me to make the following tweaks

  • I trimmed the sidestand retainer
  • I trimmed the very bottom of the rear guard
  • I added another split link which is now opposite the other  which means I will always be able to see one or the other
  • I have also taken the plunge and completely stripped the Sturmey Archer AW hub and cleaned/re-greased it improving the freeweeling dramatically. If you thought that would be easy, checkout http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea6krXSs-lc

 

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Huge winds and an accompanied long ride

The weather for Sunday 14/4 looked like: warm (19 degrees), windy (18mph gusting 42mph) – It still HAD to be done!!

I text John Bell, one of my friends who is also doing C2C with me and, surprisingly he agreed to ride.

I must say I had a chain throw before getting off our estate which I soon sorted (must be all the practice). Then off around to rendezvous with John (on his MTB) in Dunston.

Off we headed down to the Cycle Hub where we stopped (as is tradition) for pots  (sorry John) of tea. but sitting outside in the warmth for a change. Trying to determine the direction of the wind (it would definitely turn full on westerly later). Eventually we tore ourselves away and headed down the C2C track towards Tynemouth where I’d complained to the council of the broken glass and to my surprise the council had actually been out to clear it (thanks Newcastle council). One of John’s ex colleagues John Loknes lives in North shields and John had arranged a rendezvous. Eventually we would meet at the Lighthouse.

On our way along the seafront the wind (offshore) was BIG and there seemed lots of RAF helicopter action. When we passed through Cullercoats there were ambulances and police cars etc and lots of spectators looking down at an ‘incident’ on the rocks where it transpired somebody was lying on a stretcher. The helicopter was having difficulty picking up the casualty due to the very difficult wind conditions. The pilot came in for another attempt and this time winched the injured person whilst trying their best to keep the (yellow) chopper steady – well flown that pilot!!!

“Humber Coastguard paged the Brigade after receiving a report from the North East Ambulance Service that a man had fallen on rocks at the south end of Whitley Bay Beach sustaining injuries. Brigade members arrived on scene and assisted paramedics from the Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team with caring for the 22 year-old male who had sustained hip and leg injuries. The man was placed on a stretcher and evacuated by RAF Rescue Helicopter 131 from RAF Bolumer to the RVI Hospital for further assessment and treatment.
Members of Newbiggin Coastguard Rescue Team and officers from Northumbria Police were also in attendance at this incident”

Once that action was over we headed along to the lighthouse via the promenade at Whitley Bay (and stunned to hear John had never, ever been on it) where we met up with John and had (MORE) tea 🙂 This time the tide was out so we had a cycle across the causeway and took the obligatory lighthouse photo 🙂

John (Loknes) joined us for the return ride along to Tynemouth, which was testing to say the least given the wind before peeling off and heading home – thanks John for the company.

The ride back up the riverside track had some interesting bits where we’d be hit by the (head)wind but all in not as bad as I feared. Returning to the Cycle Hub cafe again for YET MORE TEA – there’s a theme to my rides 😉

Time was up and off we headed home to complete another 38.5miles ride -DONE

Stats for our route: http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/176518264/1493652

Thanks John Bell for the company and for the photos:

20130414_124824 20130414_124832_11714 20130414_124832_29384 20130414_124832_36379 20130414_124832_69587 20130414_124832_75649 20130414_124832_127673 20130414_124832_144078 20130414_124832_153979 20130414_124832_155545 20130414_124832_157479 20130414_124832_164045 20130414_124832_164558 20130414_133237

 

 

 

 

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A World Distance Record Attempt (For Me)

Well, as anyone who has read my previous posts I have been trying to increase the mileage (with limited success) to at least give me a feel of how difficult my challenge will be.

My previous attempts had been to aim for St Mary’s Lighthouse or Blyth which are 19.5/24.5 miles respectively and to be picked up my ‘support crew’ (Mrs B in our car).

Both attempts ended in mechanical failure at Tynemouth (16 miles), which meant I ended up waiting for rescue at Woods Cafe (which I can thoroughly recommend now).

This time was going to be different as the bike would have the recent modifications in place –  I was aiming to reach St Mary’s Lighthouse and … RETURN!!

The weather forecast was decent so I loaded the bike rack into the back of the car (just in case) and I headed off in the direction of the http://www.thecyclehub.org/ where  I knew the bike jumble would be starting at 10 and I had arranged to meet Jed as he cycled down from  Slaley on his Giant Defy (somewhat of an unfair advantage me thinks). Sitting outside having my tea and there were loads of cyclists coming in. A large group of cyclists came in and one came over with his helmet, shades and Zorro mask on and started to talk to me – I recognised his voice and bluffed my way thru to when he removed his disguise. It was Dave Nichol, a colleague from work who I hadn’t known was into his cycling but apparently he’s relatively new to it and loving it.

The Hub were preparing themselves to show the Paris Roubaix race in the afternoon on a big screen so there was quite a buzz.

A guy came in on a Dawes Ultra Galaxy (same as my tourer) but I noticed he didn’t have the Brooks leather saddle on. I went to question why and it turns out we’d chatted 2 years previous whilst doing the Northern Rock Cyclone 107 miles ride -he was on his Dawes and I was on my Trek Madone 4.7 (but wishing, for comfort that I was on my Dawes). Anyway turned out he (John) did LEJOG the year previous to me so we did email a couple of times before my attempt and he followed my progress on my blog. But now he was much more interested in my crazy capers on  the Chopper and was I think surprised at just how much attention the bike was getting. It was a good catchup John if you get to read this feel free to drop me a line.

Anyway, I tore myself away after another pot of tea (cheers Jed) and off to the track to lead me down to Tynemouth. I would leave the track where I knew there was a lot of broken glass which Newcastle Council hadn’t cleared and was impossible to cycle around it.

When I rejoined the track I started catch what turned out to be a father, mother, their son and another friend all on traditional old style tourers. Just turns out they had been at the Hub also and had been admiring the Chopper. The other friend turns out to own 60 bikes and one of which is a penny farthing which he’d like to do lejog on – and people say I’m mad?? good luck to you.

Anyway we made our merry way down to Tynemouth without incident until, without warning, a dog not on a leash ran across in front of me so I slammed on the brake to avoid it and the father on the tourer ran into the back end of me – bringing chain etc off – OH NO, THE CURSE OF TYNEMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN – this time though I was able to don the fashionable latex gloves and fix the problem and head my way along the coastline to St Mary’s Lighthouse (photo evidence below). again I stopped for a cup of tea which I drank whilst watching the waves lapping over the causeway – very pleasant but with a cold easterly wind.

So now I was at my halfway point (19 miles) I ‘just had to’ retrace my tracks. Incident free and bumped into John and  a couple of female friends who he’d met at the Hub and he’d been telling them all about my Chopper – they probably didn’t believe anyone could be so crazy – they do now!!

Eventually arriving back at the Hub and this time well deserved large muffin and a pot of tea – really should have treat the Chopper also.

38.56 miles done at an average of 9.4mph – which isn’t bad going.

Route details can be viewed at Endomondo

The Chopper had loads of photos taken, gruff white van man winding window down, tooting and shouting “great bike mate” – #STANDARD

I FEEL LIKE WE ARE ON TRACK NOW 🙂

The Chopper reaches St Mary's Lighthouse only to find the causeway covered

The Chopper reaches St Mary’s Lighthouse only to find the causeway covered

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