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Entries are now open for this. I did it last year, and it was a superbly organised sportive following an excellent route through Northumberland. A lot of climbing, so challenging enough for most tastes, I'd say. You can enter online - which I've just done - and if anyone fancies a weekend in Newcastle in June I'd say this was an excellent excuse.
Peter Harrison

glad to see you have entered - hope you found the new online entry facility easy to use. Smile  The event is going to be even bigger and better next year. As you will see when you visit the site I even have a Brewery Very Happy  as one of the sponsors as well as the Regional Development Agency who fund Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. The event is one of their Culture 10 events for 2008 and hopefully longer.

cheers Peter

looks good, but I am afraid june is fully booked for me!

I want to live in the UK for a while.

Anyone else doing this one, then? The route is well worth it.

Let me check the story in work, I am tempted!!!

I know what you're all say but it's the same weekend as the London to Brighton which I've already signed up for.... Embarassed

Up early yesterday for my most local sportive, the Northern Rock Cyclone in Northumberland. It's a beautiful day, too, one of those welcome occasions when the gloomy prognostications of the weatherman turn out to be wrong. Sunshine, not too hot, all's well with the world.

This is a well-organized event, too; better than last year, in my opinion. Registration is more convenient, there's more help and explanation available, and while the system of dispatching starters in small groups causes some delay, it's certainly the safest way of getting us out onto the road.

There's about a dozen of us from my club and we set off together. That isn't going to last - it never does, and anyway Craig is looking for a time that I, at least, can't possibly match. But for the first hour or so we're together, and acquire one or two obviously fast lads from elsewhere, and we're rattling along in a bunch until the terrain starts to get a bit lumpy and it's not long before I and a few others are off the back. I'm still feeling good, though, and cruise along through increasingly beautiful scenery chatting to one or two I pass, or am passed by, along the way. I hope Mr Mountainbiker did as good a time as he was looking for and is a convert to the world of narrow tyres and elegant machines.

One nasty moment just before Rothbury, where there's a short but quite fast descent down to a bridge across a stream. The trees  around the bridge cast such a deep shadow that, coming out of strong sunlight, I can't see enough and hit a massive pothole at speed. I very nearly come off the bike and am astounded that I don't get an impact puncture, but no apparent damage.

My problems begin on the climb to Billsmoor just above Elsdon. This is a fairly demanding climb, but not brutal, and I've ridden it several times without a problem. Today, though, somebody has clearly ramped it up a few more %age points.  I labour up it with more sweat than style, and am very pleased to see the feedstation at the top.

From Billsmoor on I'm in an increasingly, and inexplicably, bad place.  Every little hill is a mountain, I start thinking about how far there is to go, and I'm generally finding this much harder than I did last year, when I was less fit than I am now. I've been riding with Neil and David for a while now, and I tell them I'm struggling and they shouldn't wait for me.  Neil says "we're not waiting, we're flat out!" Amazing how consoling it is to know that others are hurting too.

Even in my current mood I find time to admire the scenery as we cross the moors towards Greenhaugh. This really is a superb route, making the most of the byways and sideroads to minimize the traffic. For quite long periods we don't see any cars at all. Northumberland is probably England's emptiest county. It's made for this sort of event.

But the road across the moors is heavy going and we're crawling along. I'm glad of the rapid untechnical descent down the far side, and the fact that the road into Wark and the next timing stop is relatively benign. But the climb out of Wark quickly negates any feelgood factor from the stop. As I get to the top another participant is stopped, waiting for his mate. "That wasn't pleasant", he says to me. "I'm suffering like a dog" is what I gasp out in reply.

Then on to the Ryals and the last, and steepest, climb of the day. This is another I've had no problem climbing when out on my own, but it's looming large in my head now. Neil and David are a few hundred yards ahead of me, and when I get to the hills I can see Neil struggling up  to the top but David is off the bike on the steepest section, trying to get the cramp out of his quads. I stop, ostensibly to commiserate and make sure he's alright, but the truth is I'm glad of the excuse to walk the last few yards.

After that it's plain sailing, both because we know the worst is behind us and because the trend from Matfen to Newcastle is pretty much downhill. We pass quite a lot of people along the way and may even give the entirely false impression that we aren't in bits.

So, why was this such a tough day at the office? It's a challenging sportive, certainly, but the route hasn't changed since last year. Still more puzzling, I'm in better shape than I was this time last year. I started too fast, but then I always start too fast: it's one of the penalties of being too stupid to learn from experience. In the end I think I just wasn't mentally prepared. Knowing I was in reasonable shape, knowing I'd put in a fair few miles, done the Tour of Ireland etc., I'd convinced myself that the Cyclone would be easy. It isn't, and being confronted with that reality probably had a disproportionate impact on my morale. Another reminder that a lot of this game is in the head.

Great event, though. I recommend it. And there's virtue in suffering, after all.
last km

Chapeau Chasm and a well written report  Cool

redster73 wrote:
I know what you're all say but it's the same weekend as the London to Brighton which I've already signed up for.... Embarassed

Report: You forget how busy it gets! Bloody day-trippers Mad

Well done and nice read!

I love reading reports like this, it inspires everyone to get on a bike and give it a go. Maybe we should have a race/sportive report thread? I'm sure there's enough of us riding events to keep it well stocked with reports...

Postscript; I've just checked the Garmin readout from this ride and compared it with my stats for the Tour of Ireland stage 4. It goes like this:

Tour of Ireland, 4th stage

Distance: 208 km/130 miles
Average speed: 23 kph
Climbing: 3226 metres
Average HR: 127bpm


Distance: 159 km/99 miles
Average speed:24.5 kph
Climbing: 2495 metres
Average HR: 145 bpm

So, for a shorter, less mountainous course I've gained only 1.5 kph at a cost of an increase of 18 bpm in my average HR. Bearing in mind that the Tour of Ireland stage was the fourth of four very tough days, either I've lost a lot of fitness in four weeks (I haven't) or there's some other problem. Low level viral infection? Poor hydration? Don't know. I'll be watching my stats for a while, though.

Juggernaut wrote:
I love reading reports like this, it inspires everyone to get on a bike and give it a go. Maybe we should have a race/sportive report thread? I'm sure there's enough of us riding events to keep it well stocked with reports...

I'd love to have written a better report but all I can say is it ain't no Caledonia!

excellent chasm! Forum Index -> Around the World
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