I arrived in my leggings, a light zip up North Face jacket and my trainers. I felt prepared, ready for the exciting mountain biking adventure ahead. The sun was shining of the Tyne in Newcastle and it seemed a perfect day to go a bike ride…
So why were the tour leaders looking at me like I was crazy ‘do you have a jacket? Gloves?’ they asked. ‘Erm no, I’m sure I will get hot once I get moving on the bike’ I replied. They looked a little confused and nodded while Straws (Andrew) went off in search of spare clothing.
We hopped in the van with our takeaway hot drinks and headed out of Newcastle. I thought I had vaguely heard Steve, another leader mention we would be cycling all the way back to the Cycle Hub, but as the van continued to go for miles out of the city I thought this couldn’t be true. We wouldn’t be cycling ‘that’ far on a leisurely cycle on a Sunday afternoon… would we?!
Well the answer was yes, in around 5 hours we cycled 30 miles from Parkhead Station back to the centre of Newcastle. I don’t really know what I expected when I signed up to a mountain biking afternoon, but somehow the idea of a long journey on a hangover hadn’t really crossed my mind. Perhaps I should have signed up to afternoon tea or glass blowing after all?!
We arrived at Parkhead station in the middle of nowhere in the moors and the van had to be moved so we could open the doors it was SO windy. They registered 45mph winds and just moving from the van to the little restaurant B&B had us being pulled all over the place, not to mention soaked by the lashing rain.
Thank goodness Andrew had a bag full of spare clothes, gloves and jackets for those of us who were less prepared. I couldn’t stop laughing at my initial terrible level of preparation, but the surprise, the extremity of the weather and the adventure that lied ahead only got me more excited for the cycling to begin.
The journey we were doing is the final part of the coast to coast cycle trail. Thousands of cyclers each year get to the Parkhead Station knowing they have almost arrived at their final destination. The restaurant and B&B was completely renovated from what was once a train station and has now become a hub for cyclers from across the world to re-energise with hot food and drink and even a bed for the night. Even in this terrible weather there was still a handful of people digging into hot broth and beef sandwiches.
If a cyclist turns up without any money they won’t refuse them and are sure to give them a quick drink to keep them going. When they shut for holidays they even leave a selection of tea bags, coffees, a kettle and a few nibbles in a hut for cyclists to take shelter and restock. Aww!
After layering up we headed out into the wild outdoors. The first leg of the journey was the most extreme yet the easiest. Wind was lashing at our faces and you had to lean into the wind to stop yourself from being blown off your bike (some more successfully than others). Thank goodness the wind was blowing in our direction, we didn’t even need to peddle we were just blown along!
The journey took us over moors, through woodland, villages, past valleys, down old train tracks and along the Tyne. Once we dropped down further the wind subsided and the sun raised its head again and it was easy cycling the whole route home. Well apart from a few small hills which had my legs screaming. By the end of the journey I had never been so ready for a hot cup of tea and a soft cushion to rest my bottom on!
The team at Saddle Skedaddle and The Cycle Hub looked after us all so well. I could not have survived without the extra kit I wore, the packed lunches helped keep us well energised throughout the journey, their knowledge of the different historical and cultural points along the route added to the journey and as bloggers we wouldn’t have survived without Steve as our personal photographer along the way.
The best bit about Saddle Skedadddle is that they do all kinds of bike related adventures across the WORLD! Including mountain biking in Peru and family adventures across Europe. I will definitely be considering a biking tour for another future adventure… just as soon as my ass can handle sitting on a wooden chair again 😉
It was my choice to write a blog about this adventure and all opinions are 100% true of my experiences.