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. Not only that, quite a few did it at an overage of over 17mph.
Many thanks to Darlington Borough Council for organising this (I think with Darlington Cycling Club) and to Peter and others for coaxing everyone to enter.