L’Enfer du Nord (Est)

The very excellent Cycle Hub had arranged a themed ride for the weekend of the Paris-Roubaix. The ride was 100 km/62 miles of “seriously challenging riding on a mix of tarmac, cobbles, farm tracks, bridleways and wagon-ways. The ethos was to ride entirely unsuitable bikes along entirely unsuitable routes!”

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P1360865Arriving at The Cycle Hub on Saturday morning, several riders had dropped out, but we had a three-or-four locals plus a couple who had travelled down from Scotland for the event. To make it as “pro” as possible, Olly, who was running the event, even had guides to the difficulties for us to tape to our top tubes.

After a quick photo outside The Hub, we set off northwards through Jesmond Dene, picking out cobbled challenges to get warmed up on. The pace was pleasant, and the entire group seemed equally matched.

Out near Stanfordham we had our first major off-road climb, which was all-fine, but resulted in the first puncture of the group. Once regrouped, we headed on into the wind, with rain threatening. At this point, it was my turn for a puncture, but this was rapidly changed and onwards. Before we were soaked, we made the sanctuary of the café at Capheaton.

After bacon butties, cake and coffee, it was time to be whisked home by the tailwind. We made excellent time, and as we approached Newcastle, the route gets more-and-more off-road. The three-star Le Carrefour de Killingworth claimed my second puncture with a massive hit to the rear rim giving me a snake-bite puncture.

The obstacles had all been given French-sounding names, and the ascent of the feared Col de Weatslade gave panoramic views over Newcastle. As we headed back into Newcastle, Olly had even arranged a velodrome finish in Heaton. Once done, back into Jesmond Dene and a final cobbled climb before landing at The Cycle Hub for fantastic coffee and memories of a beautiful day out.

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