Liz was out at a woolly mates gathering up Weardale, so I got a lift to Ireshopeburn and cycled home from there. I took the track over to Teesdale, which was a big mistake – it gradually gets rougher-and-rougher, eventually becoming a walk. The weather was also extremely grim – rain, wind, cloud – a typical summers day!

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On hitting the road to Middleton, things should have been fast (and gently downhill), but there was a headwind, still raining and lots of surface water. However, on the road were loads of cyclists – all kitted up like they were touring, but generally cycling alone. I wondered if they were doing the coast-to-coast but had got lost. Not just one of them seemed to be all over the road, and there were plenty of Japanese cyclists (with flags on display from the saddlebags). In any event, I amused myself by blasting past them all. In Middleton, I stopped at the ATM and one of the guys (Dutch or Belgian I think) was sheltering from the weather – we got talking. It seems they’re doing the London-Edinburgh-London in four days. This brought me back to earth with a bump – no wonder they were all over the road – they must be delirious after doing that distance and now well on their way back south.

The (excellent) chip shop was closed, my favourite Middleton café was closed, and the only remaining café was chock-a-block with L-E-L cyclists, so I grabbed some crisps in the Co-Op. I made off for Hamsterley forest, aiming for the café there.

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On arrival at the Hamsterley café, I was informed it was closed, but if I wanted cold food/drinks they’d see what they could do. More crisps and a coke. Not my lucky day – after the chip shop disappointment, I had my mind on one of their cheeseburgers…

A relatively short (but lumpy) ride then gets me home – just the same time as Liz. She’s just heading out for a swim in the local lake. I have some serious bike and me cleaning up to do!

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