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Cestria CC goes to Barnard Castle

On Sunday there were two options for club planned rides; Angela’s “Short and Steady” and Peter’s “Intermediate”. A large number of members appeared at Chester Market Place and about six opted for Angela’s Short ride (great to see five ladies giving this a go) and the remaining sixteen-or-so taking on Peter’s Intermediate route to Hamsterley. The weather was great and some had started the day in shorts and short sleeves (I had arm warmers which I took off later). There was a light west/north-west wind blowing, and we set off south to Durham by the Low Newton Road without incident. At the former Pot and Glass pub (now Sainsburys Local) in Crossgate Moor, we turned right and headed through Bearpark and then along the beautiful Esh village ridge with great views in all directions. Having headed through Cornsey village, we kept on towards Inkerman where Trev turned back. Being such a large group, we stopped and regrouped a couple of times but it was no bid deal. At Wolsingham we stopped at the side of the road for a piece of energy bar and a drink from our bottles. Having crossed the Valley road, we again headed south, this time up the steep bank over the River Wear and the railway. As noted some weeks ago, while this is a relatively quiet road we did have cars passing us and, once again, had a very patient motorist who waited a couple of minutes until s/he found a place to pass. This is a deceptively long drag and Emma made it to the top first, followed closely by Neil W. Again, we stopped, regrouped and took a few pictures at the top. Rather than taking the main road to Hamsterley, Peter had opted for the stunning Howlea back road and this enabled the group to relax and chat on the descent. The peace and quiet was shatted at the exact bottom of the climb when a large tractor, towing an equally-large load of hay, forced Peter off the road and nearly Joanne also. It happened on a blind corner and is one of the few hazards of using country lanes. Having organised ourselves to let the tractor by (with no ill feelings, by the way), we headed into Hamsterley, and turned west towards Copley. We stopped to allow riders to catch up and I mentioned to Peter that we were thinking of leaving his route and heading for Barnard Castle to make a longer run (more like the main club route would do, but we didn’t have a set route for this group as mentioned). Mike, Donna, Craig and Ian came with me and, as we thought, everyone else continued on Peter’s route. When we had gone through Woodlands (rather the junction near the village), we discovered a large group of cyclists catching us! It transpired that most of the rest of the group had decided to join us (including Peter himself). This was not the original intention and many apologies to Peter for unintentionally highjacking his route. At the top of the bank before Eggleston, we turned left along the main road to Barny. Here, there was a bit of sparring from some of the group and we had a fast run-in and sprint for the Barny sign won convincingly by Graeme (who had led, Miguel Indurain-style, all the way down the descent). At Barny we finally found a cafe with tables (on the main road close to the...
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Cestria CC does the “Darlington 70” (Sunday, 2 July 2017)...

[All photos courtesy Ronnie Cowley unless otherwise stated] Under Peter Sturmann’s encouragement and enthusiasm, a number of club members opted to enter the “Darlington 70”. To make it more interesting, everyone decided to ride from home and, as in previous editions, meet along various points on the A167. We started off with a stunning summery morning, although there was a brisk westerly wind. Ronnie Cowley was the only one to begin near Chester, and picked up Emma Glover, Gareth Clark and yours truly at the Duke of Wellington in Durham (the pub was closed at 07:15, of course!). we then mosed down the A167 to collect Peter and Ray Haldene at the Cock of the North roundabout just outside Durham, and then we all headed south until we picked up Mark Robinson, our last invitee, at Newton Aycliffe. Having arrived at event HQ, being the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, we left at about 08:30 and joined the official course down the A167 as far as Hurworth and turned right for Middleton Tyas. There was a bit of drama here as my carbon handlebars cracked, but I was able to continue. Everyone took a turn at the front and we then turned into the wind towards Melsonby and Forcett. Just before Winston the route turned SW and we got quite a bit of shelter in the sunken lanes in this area. The suspension bridge at Whorlton Lido is a real highlight, and you cross the River Tees in some style (and make a very satisfying noise across the boards as you do so). We then headed to Barnard Castle for the only checkpoint of the day, and a complimentary bottle of water from the organisation. Since it was a bit early for eating, we decided to press on to Richmond for coffee and lunch. We cycled over the bridge near the castle, and then turned left to climb up to the A66. We had a procession of cars pulling caravans behind us and they all waited patiently until it was safe to pass which was much appreciated. Emma Glover began to test her climbing legs and left all the men in her wake on this climb. At the crossing point of the A68, we spotted a farm shop and decided to have coffees there. The quality of food was excellent but we would have got a few moans about prices had some of the club regulars been there (my pot of tea and a delicious almond cake cost a sizeable £5.50, and Ray’s fruit slice and cappucino a whopping £6!). The route took some charming lanes parallel with the A66 and we now had a helpful tailwind. Having regrouped a few times with Emma again stretching her legs, we descended into Richmond but turned left, instead of heading into the town itself for Brompton upon Swale. We now passed through Scorton, with Ray and Ronne doing turns on the front. The village of Mounton prompted a discussion of folding bikes, and we passed through Middleton Tyas for the second time that day but on through Barton. This was a far better return than the time we did the “Darlington 50” which brought us back via the A167. Traffic was not too bad on the outskirts of Darlington and we reached the Dolphin centre at about 2pm or so. Having signed off, we decided to head for Sedgefield where Peter Sturmann was waxing lyrical about a new cafe. With our lips...
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Cestria CC does the Tees and Wear valleys (12 June 2017)...

On a mild and pleasant Sunday morning, 11 cyclists set off from CLS heading south. As sometimes happens, the Intermediate and main club rides decided to start together and Peter Sturmann and Ray Haldene set an impressive pace into a headwind along the A167. Traffic was not too bad, considering it was a nice bright morning with brief showers forecast around noon. At Neville’s Cross, we turned right through Langley Moor and at Brancepth, the intermediates left the main ride by taking the right towards the long drag up to Stanley Crook, an impressive feat going straight into a SW headwind. The main bunch continued on the Wear Valley road, and after a bit of communication problems between Christian and Graeme, we managed to turn left (south) and on through the lanes to Witton Park. At the A68 Ian decided he needed to return, but everyone pressed on, and we got a bit of shelter from the hills. At Woodland Phillipe also turned back via Hamsterley, but everyone else forged ahead, wondering what the wind would be like on Eggleston common. It was not too bad, with Steve, Christian and Andy doing a big turns at the front. We stopped for a quick chat before the drop to Eggleston, with the nervous amongst us monitoring a large black cloud traversing the Pennines in the distance. Having passed Eggleston village, we no sooner started the climb to Middleton when it started to rain. This caused a split in the bunch with half opting to cycling to Barnard Castle while Emma, Christian, Stuart and myself decided to opt for Middleton. Once in the trees before Middleton the rain eased, and when we got to Middleton decided to head straight for Stanhope via Bollihope. Christian was carrying the well-know Strava virus, and its symptoms of a cyclist setting off hard on the climb to Bollihope were well recognised by everyone else in the group. In his wake were Stuart, Emma and myself and we crested the top of Bollihope within seconds of each other. The descent to Bollihope burn was uneventful, and we then began the short and steep climb up towards Stanhope. Again, Christian was on a mission but Emma was climbing very strongly. At Stanhope ford, Stuart and myself decided the water was low enough to cycle across it and we all regrouped for cake and coffee in the Dales Centre as usual except Christian who decided to head straight back. After refulling, I suggested that we could do Crawleyside since we had a whopping great tailwind and everyone agreed. I somewhat regretted this since I was on a standard chainset and struggled on the steep bits. Stuart was flying as was Emma; near this old Winding station we had to lean into strong crosswinds. Having regrouped, we then descended through Waskerey and via Rowley to Lanchester where we split. It was a super spin – I had 81 miles on the clock by the time I got home but, more interestingly, over 2000 metres of climbing. It was Emma’s first time with the main group and she did really well. Good luck to everyone in next week’s Cyclone and see you...
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Cestria CC does Darlington’s “Round 50”...

Darlington Borough Council run a series of cycle rides between June and September, culminating in the superb “Hell of the North” in early September. Peter Sturman suggested doing the “Round 50” and managed to persuade a sizeable number of club members along. Even more impressive was the fact that most of them cycled from CLS or Durham, racking up over 100 miles by the time the day had ended. At about 9am, having entered online or on the day (bargain £10 on the day including a T-shirt), yours truly and 9 club mates set off from the Dolphin Centre, Darlington in excellent conditions. We headed south down the A167, where traffic was relatively light (being a Sunday morning). At Hurworth, the route turned left (east) and began to enter a wonderful network of lanes and “B” class roads for most of the ride. The first dig of the day was led by Ian Gardner who was testing his lungs, but we all regrouped by Middleton-St. George. There was a bit of excitement when another cycling group (not doing the ’50’ was it transpired) were trying to turn right into a car park while we were in the process of passing them out! Following this, a healthy pace was set by Stuart Consett Cook and Mike Wyngard, but everyone was chatting so it can’t have been that bad. Having entered Yarm, which was quiet and allowed us time to admire the fine railway viaduct, we headed south and up the hill to Kirk Levington prison where we stopped for coffee and cake at the usual bargain prices. Having had a lovely sunny morning, clouds began to gather so we again adopted a decent pace and got warm after the stop with Donna McBride particularly active at the front of the group. We crossed the A19 on an overbridge (with no junction, thankfully), and headed into Seamer and shortly afterwards turned due west into a light breeze. Here the road was quite exposed, sitting on a ridge with good views of the North Yorks Moors. After the quaintly-named Hutton Rudby (where we took the picture), the group continued Crathorne village and over the A19 for the final time. Rather than the usual direct route back via Yarm, we threaded through Picton and Appleton Wiske before crossing the A167 at Great Smeaton (which was not too busy). After East Cowton (set of railway emergency crossovers on the east coast line) and Dalton Gates, we headed north and rejoined the A167 at Dalton-on-Tees where certain members of the group started to wind it up! I didn’t start it, your honour! We were lined out (ie., single file) and a motorist foolishly decided to pass us on double continuous lines, causing consternation when she had to pull in sharply for oncoming trafftc, leaving little room for riders (couldn’t even accuse us of riding two abreast which, as we all know, is legal anyway). That was the only serious incident of the whole day and the vast majority of road users were patient and polite. Our passage into Darlington was more cautious, with quite a bit of traffic at this stage. Everyone safely reached the Civic centre and signed off, helping themselves to a free bottle of water in the process. As I mentioned at the beginning, the more intrepid members of the group set out for Sedgefield before getting home which, for almost all of them, was over 100 miles and a well-deserved ton....
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Cestria CC does Piercebridge (21 May 2017)...

As usual Mal Grey, Club captain, set an engaging and interesting route for this Sunday’s club run, and we actually followed it to the letter in Mal’s absence. It has been planned that we might have an Intermediate group separate from the main club run but, in the end, we all went the same route and stayed together. About 18 riders left CLS in good, bright conditions into a SW wind. We headed straight down the A167 to Neville’s Cross where we turned right onto the A690 as far as Willington. It is sometimes difficult keeping a large group like this together and, to make it safe, we cycle two abreast (as the law says we are entitled to do so, as long as we are not *more* than two abreast). This morning, we got a few cars getting annoyed but nothing quite beat a young pedestrian (late 20s, I would guess) who shouted abuse at us. Having turned off the A690 at Willington, we headed south towards Bishop, but then turned right onto the lanes and onwards to Witton Park. My feeble efforts at cycling ahead of the bunch and then trying to get into position to take pictures were rightly mocked (right)! Our two lady club members, Donna and Joanne, both featured at the front of the group. After the quaintly-named hamlet of Windmill, we turned south again through Cockfield and eventually onto the A688 (not too busy) past Raby Castle (deer were hiding this morning) into Staindrop. The usual cafe is still closed, despite a sign saying the hoped to open in 2017, and the other cafe in the village was full of cyclists! Graeme suggested Piercebridge, which was on Mal’s route anyway, so we set off south again through Winston (which we often do in the opposite direction). Near the village of Eppleby we encountered the most extraordinary procession of tractors heading towards us, obviously going to a show or rally. Club chairman Mike Wyngard’s misspent youth came in handy as he was able to name several makes of tractor! Having reached the Roman Road, we turned north and into Piercebridge where we stopped at the first cafe, which turned out to be the excellent farm shop cafe. Shortly after our arrival, some of the Houghton CC’s club ride joined us, including several of their members know to us (Ranson bros in particular and Andy). We also had a cultural conversation about language. That’s all I’m saying. After excellent cakes and scrambled egg, our bunch headed north on Dere Street (bit of history thrown in for fun). One wonders what groupset the Roman soldiers might have used, had they been alive today. The smart money would be Italian Campag, but bear in mind most of them were foreign conscripts, I reckon they would have opted for Shimano since you get more kit for your denari. But that’s my opinon! Having reached Royal Oak, we crossed the busy A68 again and threaded our way to Shildon. Ron and I remarked how improved the town centre is, with the lovely block paving and attractive iron features. At Kirk Merrington, racing legs began to get itchy and Ron led an impressive charge up the bank, with eventual winner Christian succeeding at the top. Having regrouped, we all freewheeled down the hill to Spenny and onto Tudhoe. After the Sunderland Bridge roundabout, Graeme was the one with the Tom Dumoulin legs and began a spirited ascent of Cock of the...
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Cestria CC does the Reverse Killhope Reliability trial...

Sunday’s cycle to Nenthead and Allenheads was enjoyed by no fewer than 11 members, including intrepid lady member Donna McBride. The idea of the route was courtesy Mal Grey, who  more-or-less set a reverse of the Killhope Grimpeur route (more on that later). Peter Sturman had suggested we start at Lanchester at 9.15am, and we just about did this, with Peter having to dash home to collect his forgotten cycle shoes! It was bright and sunny with a slight side—to-tailwind on the way out. Having waited for Peter who past us in his car and then joined us near Rowley, we headed through Waskerley where the wind was not much of an issue. We split into a few groups on the road and regrouped at the top before the fast descend to Stanhope. Surprisingly, for such a lovely day, there was no that much traffic but we decided to take the back road via Brotherlee as far as Daddry Shield where we joined the main road again. The sun continued to shine as we forged uphill, and soon we passed Killhope museum and were at one of England’s two highest road passes. After a short but fast descent, we turned right (north) towards Allendale. Graeme had set off first, resolutely following Mal’s route on his Garmin. The next group got to the junction for Allenheads and decided to turn right, Graeme having passed through some minutes before. After a short discussion, everyone else decided to skip the Allendale option and head straight to Allenheads, with the Hemmel’s tasty offerings on everyone’s minds (it was about 12:15 at this point). Having reached the Hemmel without incident, we then sat down for various refreshment. Again, surprisingly, there were very few people in the cafe. With nobody opting for the Hemmel’s famous breakfasy fry (and remembering the sharp ascent out of the valley), we headed past the headgear of Grove Rake mine (a group is trying to preserve this) and then turned left (north) and up the steep ascent to Hunstanworth. Again, having regrouped at the top, we headed into Blanchland where we took the road through the quaintly-named Ruffside before arriving in Edmondbyers. Here Ian Gardner decided to return via Carterway Heads and the rest of us opted for the hairpins of Muggleswick. The views towards Northumberland were stunning with ait quality extremely good, and we eventually passed Rowley again. Having safely crossed the A68, we then split with some opting for Newbiggin Land (our outward route) and most of us taking Longedge Lane into Lanchester. It was a super day’s cycling and great fun – I had over 2000 metres climbing when I got back. Well done to new rider Mark Robinson who managed to pace himself around very neatly. This was identical to the Reliability trials we used to have in late March and everyone successfully passed the...