This is becoming something of a theme, the weather on Saturday was warm (again), occasionally bright (again) and a bit blustery (again). We’re in danger of having remarkably consistent weather, week in and week out, which would obviously be a bit of a disaster as we’re British and would lose such a mainstay of our everyday conversations.
Still, it makes for pleasant riding conditions, so here we go again.
It was an uneventful run across to the meeting place where our club mingled with a few members of the JPF who , I must say, seem to be getting a bit tardy setting off these days. Crazy Legs wondered if we’d ever get a breakaway from a breakaway, which naturally led him to sing the song from the Breakaway biscuit advert … except … except he got it confused with the (frankly much catchier) theme song from the kid’s TV programme, Playaway – so instead of “Don’t take away my Breakaway” we got:
It really doesn’t matter if it’s raining or it’s fine
Just as long as you’ve got time
To B-R-E-A-K breakaway-break, breakaway,
Break-a-break, breakaway. Breakaway.
Well, It almost worked …
“Can you still get Breakaways?” he pondered.
I confirmed that I had been offered one while visiting elder relatives recently, while the Hammer surmised you could probably still buy them at Nisa (other typical corner shops are available), being sold individually in one of those wrappers that clearly states “Part of a multi-pack: Not to be sold individually.”
“What colour were the wrappers, anyway,” Crazy Legs continued.
“Orangey-yellow?” I suggested.
“Hmm, I was going to say yellowy-orange. This just confirms it, we’re polar opposites.” That’s some irrefutable logic and not worth arguing with.
We then tried to find a shade of yellowy-orange, or even orangey-yellow in the collected jerseys of the two cycling groups, but no one had quite nailed it. There’s entertainment in small things.
“What time is it?” Crazy Legs asked suddenly. Apparently, his new Fitbit has decided that if he’s fully engaged in any cycling activity, then he doesn’t need to know what time it is. He dropped down off the wall to consult Captain Black’s bike computer and find the answer to his question.
It was 9:14. He looked up, just as Carlton appeared, drawing a sharp intake of breath. Why was he so early? As Carlton rolled to a stop, Crazy Legs looked down again to verify the time and was just about to castigate Carlton for being premature when the display clicked over to 9:15.
Time we were away.
Den Haag had planned the route this week which included a rare (but not rare enough) pilgrimage up the Ryals. There were 24 of us, but we were back to struggling to get enough numbers in the first group, so I did that thing where you look to see if you’ll be the slowest rider and a drag on the rest. Being second worst is okay, but you definitely don’t want to be the worst. There wasn’t a whole lot in it, but I gambled that, all things being equal, I probably didn’t quite represent the nadir of the group assembling, so somewhat reluctantly joined them. A bit of cajoling and encouragement from G-Dawg and we made it up to 7, but that would have to do, so away we went.
We hit Ponteland and then turned almost due west through Dalton, Stamfordham, Fenwick, Matfen and Great Whittingdon, before turning north for Bingfield. Taco Cat expressed her trepidation that we were now approaching the Ryalls, although apparently she’s ridden them many times before, so it wasn’t fear of the unknown.
“That and the Quarry are the only climbs we have on the route though,” Den Haag assured her, just as we started the climb to Bingfield. Apparently this hadn’t registered as a climb to Den Haag, but my legs vociferously disagreed.
A quick descent and then we were on the horrible, draggy run up to the Ryalls, looming like a wall ahead of us. I dropped into the smallest gear, along with a pace I felt I could sustain. The front runners raced on ahead, so, as I crested the first of the climbs dual humps, they’d already pushed through the “easier” section and were halfway up the the final steep ramp.
Movement in the field to my right distracted me from the pain in my legs and I watched a dark brown shape cutting a V-shaped wake through the crops. It materialised into a sheep-sized, potentially roe(?) deer that hesitated for the briefest of moments, looking me directly in the eye, before realising I was moving much too slow to be any kind of threat. In an effortless, graceful bound it cleared the wall, dashed across my path, hooves skitterring on the road surface and leapt again. Traction on tarmac obviously wasn’t all that good for this take off and it audibly rattled the barbed wire strands across the top of the wall as it sailed over, disappearing as quickly as it appeared.
That, I decided, was obviously the Johnny Hoogerland of the Britsh deer community, capable of lacerating themselves on barbed wire and then shrugging it off and continuing on their way as if nothing had happened.
It was also the kind of chance encounter that almost made up for the stupid brutality of the Ryalls – a climb our group then decided should feature more regularly on club runs. What? No!
We regrouped once clear of the climb, quickly scaled the Quarry and then clambered our way up to Capheaton for well-earned coffee and cake.
There was some discussion about whether Capheaton was “the best cycling cafe.” Personally, now that we’ve broken the edict that we can only ever stop at Belsay, I like the choice and the route flexibility the various stops deliver and to be honest, each place has its merits and, shall we say, wrinkles.
Caracol was wrestling with his inner demons trying to decide whether he should be looking at a new bike or not. I thought this was a very unfair and unequal contest as he had no significant other to argue against and suggested he might like to borrow Mrs. Sur La Jante for this purpose.
Jimmy Mac insisted that Mrs. Mac was even more ideally suited for the role as she had experience and came pre-programmed with a whole host of stock responses and challenges, such as:
“This is a garage, not a bike showroom.”
“What do you need another bike for?”
“How many bikes can you actually ride at any given time?”
She had, he confessed, even sussed out the trick of him covertly buying all the individual components and assembling them into a new bike and was no longer buying the “it’s just an old frame I’ve had resprayed” gambit either.
For some reason, Caracol declined both our kind offers, suggesting he’d best just wrestle with his conscience alone, thank you very much. His loss, I’m sure …
We left the cafe with pretty much the same group and were soon chasing after Flat Eric, who apparently had an urgent need to get home early and was intent on ramping up the pace. I bailed at Kirkley, starting to feel sorry for my legs and enjoyed a more sedate pace as I picked my way home. Hopefully that’s the Ryalls done for another year.
|Day & Date:||Club run Saturday 28th May 2002|
|Riding Time:||4 hours 6 minutes|
|Riding Distance:||109km/68 miles with 1,077m of climbing|
|Group Size:||23 riders, 2 FNG’s|
|Temperature:||9℃ – 14℃|
|Weather in a word or two:||Err … lacking variety? (It’s not a complaint!)|
|Year to date:||2,135km/1,327 miles with 22,868m of climbing|