Saturday, 20 April 2013

Uncharted Territory

Tynemouth Castle
As much as I love the variety of cycling that Shropshire offers, it’s always nice to cycle somewhere new. New roads mean new challenges, and unexpected terrain to keep up on your toes.

Earlier in the week a business trip to Newcastle offered up the perfect opportunity to venture further afield. Just knowing that I had a ride to look forward to once we’d finished for the day made the ludicrously early start almost bearable.

Meetings completed, and hotel found, it was time to put the bike back together and hit the road. My plan was simple. Head from Newcastle city centre along the northern banks of the Tyne, then turn left and up the coast. Riding along the coastline always takes me back to my younger days when I lived on the Kent coast, seemingly a million miles away from the landlocked county of Shropshire.

The following two hours served to illustrate why I love cycling so much. The simple act of pushing the pedals the perfect antidote to the drudgery of the afternoon’s meeting.

Whitley Bay came and went and was so reminiscent of my hometown. A proud seaside town; perhaps not as grand as it once was, but still retaining a certain charm. I turned inland as I reached Blyth in the now fading light. The bright lights of the city centre guided me back to my hotel, and a well earned beer.

It’s not what you ride, or where you ride, what’s important is that you do!

Vive la Velo!   

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Hell of the Wrekin – Telford Toothpaste 2013

Getting ready to HTFU

It was as I battled my way through the six inch deep sand which claimed many a victim on the Creamery secteur that I realised just what a special event I was lucky enough to be taking part in. The ‘Toothpaste’, Shropshire’s very own tribute to the greatest one day race in the world, was underway, and was surpassing all I’d hoped it would be.

A couple of hours earlier, over 60 Toothpasters gathered at the event’s start point, shivering from the sub zero temperatures, but all looking forward to what promised to be a special day in the saddle. A loose amalgam of riders, some from local clubs, some from further afield, many I knew, more that I didn’t.

Organised largely via social media, by the man known to many only as Teddy Smerckx, this was the antithesis of the current love affair with sportives. However, this wasn’t just a glorified club run. Many of the riders were sporting jerseys to mark the event, we had a support crew taking photos (thanks for letting me use them here!), and to top it all we had our very motorcycle outriders. All very pro, and not at all what most of us were used to.
The ride itself was over all too quickly, the ever challenging off road secteurs breaking up the relative calm offered by the tarmac. The final secteur along the cycle path which tracks the River Severn offered up perhaps the perfect metaphor for the entire ride when we came upon a rider limping along who’d suffered yet another puncture. Only a few kms from the finish and a hard earned beer, this was a puncture too far, and all his spare tubes had been used. Mart, my riding partner, did the only decent thing, and passed on a tube to our stricken fellow Toothpaster.
Beer, Frites, and Faboo completing his third Paris Roubaix victory followed. The ‘Hell of the Wrekin’ had been a resounding success, and talk had already turned to next year.

A massive thanks to Teddy Smerckx for organising what can only be described as a truly unique event.

Mr Smerckx!

 Vive la Velo!