September 2, 2011, by Andrew Burden
The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 7: Gateshead to Thirsk
Today we started with a 3-7-2 formation (which does make twelve, not eleven).
Andy joined the Flying Squad. They set off early and were in Thirsk by 1230. I waved off Karen, Kate, Nick, David W, Chris J, Neville and Steve around 0800. The effects of last night’s treatment persuaded me I could ride, but I decided to set off later and on my own, partly to give me another hour of recovery / treatment, and partly to ensure I did not hold up the others. It also gave me options if my knee reacted badly.
Ed from the Support Team volunteered to ride with me. He is an experienced and proficient cyclist, so I was happy with that. Attentive as always, the support team also set out to track us in case of problems.
Chris J very helpfully left me with his knee support and Garmin. The former was really helpful, providing more flexibility than either of mine. I knew the Garmin was a mixed blessing, given the time we had already spent trying to figure out its instructions. And so it proved, we abandoned it before we were clear of Gateshead in favour of road signs and maps on my iPhone.
We decided to take the direct route and find the A167, which runs through Chester-le-Street, Durham, Darlington and Northallerton, where it picks up the A168 to Thirsk.
After four or five wild miles on the A1, we were on our way. Ed is an excellent cyclist and set a challenging, but achievable pace. My various supports did the job nicely.
In passing through Chester-le-Street and Durham you can’t help but notice rather a lot of places with intriguing names like ‘Pity Me’. The one that really caught my eye was ‘Neville’s Crossing’. My first thought was that the events team had organised a route through Durham without red lights to ensure a certain one of our riders did not attract more police cautions. But it turned out to be the site of a seventeenth century battle.
We made rapid progress on the A167. It is a busy road, but after the A9 in Scotland very comfortable. It also has quite a lot of lights, which was useful for catching up with Ed.
Until we got beyond Darlington we were largely in built up areas, obviously very different to most of our experiences over the last week. We saw evidence of urban decay and the challenges that brings, but encouraging evidence of urban renewal too. We also had a great view of ‘The Angel of the North’, which is very impressive (even it is only one third the height of Aspire).
Just before Northallerton, as Ed and I climbed a hill, we could see the support van with Karen, Kate, Chris J, Nick, Neville and Steve. It was like a homecoming! It also allowed us to catch up on what they had been up to. This included: blagging their way into a NHS Community Centre in Sedgefield to get a cheap lunch; Kate ram raiding a Garden Centre (little more can be said of that); and (amazingly) no punctures for Nick.
Great cycling conditions today, albeit with a steady 10 mph headwind and we were all in Thirsk before 1600, allowing more recovery time than almost all of us have had to date.
I was very happy to have made and completed the ride with Ed as pacemaker. More ice packs and compression to prepare for what will be a long day tomorrow.
So another 64 miles clocked up, bringing our total to 530. We are now way beyond what most of us have ever done before.
My eldest son Stuart and one of his friends will join us tomorrow for the two legs in to Sutton Bonington. It will be great to have him with us.
Finally, tonight is the first opportunity for internet access I have had for some time. That has allowed me to read the many comments on my blogs. Thank you all for taking the time to read them, thank you for your warm and supportive comments, which are much appreciated.
September 1st 2011.