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 soon!