Cestria CC does Morrisons, Darlington (5 March 2017)

Disciples of cycling: Peter and Paul enjoy a rest at Brancepeth.

On a dry and sunny morning, a sizeable group left Chester Market Place heading south. Having crossed the A167, we headed up golf course bank for Lumley where the faster riders began to forge ahead and we split into two (fast and intermediate). I stayed in the Inter group and we steadily cycled though Leamside and then Coxhoe where we stopped briefly for a discussion about getting to Darlington. We headed down the A177 but then took the charming little lane towards Bishop Middleham and the turned west to Ferryhill Station. The roads were not too busy and we were able to chat and enjoy the spin.

Having crossed the A1M junction at Bradbury, we turned south towards Great Stainton and managed a reasonable pace, despite a light headwind. Donna McBride was going well and attacking any little climbs. At Great Burdon, on the outskirts of Darlington, Peter MacGowan suggested a super route to North Road and we all made it safely at about 11.30am to Morrisons. It is a while since I’ve been there – it used to be a very regular feature for club winter rides, because the cafe is great value and you can see the bikes stored inside (and out of the way).

The faster lads had already arrived at Morrisons, but we all left together at about 1230. We headed north on the A167 and then decided to split at Rushyford where the fast people kept on the A167 and the Inter group headed towards Bishop on the busy A689. It is a while since I’ve done this road – it’s narrow and busy, but we were only on it for about 3 miles before turning north again. Our little group consisted of Paul, Peter and myself with Donna, Ian and Malcolm chasing Steve and Christian up the A167. With a moment of relief we left the A689 and headed up the bank to Kirk Merrington. Our legs were tired then although Paul had a bash at the climb and did very well.

Having regrouped and passed KM, we turned left through Spennymoor and on to Page Bank. The temperature felt changeable all day and when the sun was hiding it felt quite cool. We reached the A690 near Brancepth where we stopped for a photo shoot and parted company with Peter. Paul and myself headed up the Spennymoor CC Hill Climb (to the top of Buttons Bank where we split). It was a most enjoyable day and resulted in a very satisfying 60-ish miles or so at a comfortable average of just over 15mph.