With our inaugural ‘Away Day” only last year, this weekend away, just before the weather starts to reek havoc with carefully laid cycling plans, has become a firm favorite.
Our weekend began in Stockton FC car park around 9am when the riders congregated to off-load their kit to Steve, our brilliant back-up man. Nine riders then set off to ride to Barnard Castle for coffee. The weather was cloudy and to be honest a little cooler than my weather app had predicted but we were in good spirits and most riders remembered the first half of the route so pushed on at a good pace.
For the first two and a half hours we rode from Stockton to Sadberge, through Middleton St George down Neasham bank and out towards Hurworth and Croft-on-Tees. From there we made our way to Middleton Tyas before turning right to go down hill towards the A1 crossing under it at the Piercebridge turn. Then it was on to Melsonby, Caldwell, Hutton Magna before going over the wooden bridge at Whorlton and then past the Bowes Museum. Our coffee stop was just before Market Cross on the left hand side of the road. A full 34.5 miles from the start coffee was very welcome at the Nest gallery and cafe - a great place for cyclists. There are plenty of tables outside with lots of railings for propping up the bikes. Large windows give good views of the bikes, in case you have forgotten a bike lock. The café serves good food with exceptionally large cakes, has an interesting gallery section and very welcoming and friendly staff. If there is a big group of you who decide to ride over there you are welcome to give the café a call on 01833 695172 so that they can reserve you some space.
After a decent break we headed on our way again to Middleton-in-Teesdale. At the Market Cross we turned left to make our way to Cotherstone and then on to Romaldkirk, up one side of Egglestone bank and then out onto the moors on the road towards Stanhope before turning left onto the road that led straight to Middleton-in-Teesdale. This was a hilly 15.5 miles with some hill climbs at 13% and 14%. The advantage was that the last couple of moor miles were a fast downhill that led straight in to Middleton-in-Teesdale and the Forresters Hotel and Restaurant where our overnight accommodation was booked. Well-deserved beers were the order of the day and whilst we were chatting several steam engines arrived in the small market town. These were the same engines that we had past going in the opposite direction just before we tackled part of Egglestone bank. It was lovely to see the old engines working.
Steam engines at Egglestone Bank and a well deserved pint at the end of day one!
As said, our overnight accommodation was The Forresters Hotel and Restaurant. We can all recommend this hotel. It doesn’t look much from the outside and has a prominent French theme but the food there is really exceptional. It has plenty of bike storage and the downstairs is divided in two. One side is a lovely bistro whilst the other is a more traditional pub with a pool table and TV for the rugby!
Sunday dawned bright and sunny but chilly. After a full English we gathered together to start the homeward leg. An undulating, perhaps hilly start culminating in the complete ascent of Egglestone bank and then a left turn to the Staindrop road which provided us with 11 miles of fast flat or downhill road with high moorland views. Once into Staindrop it is then the clubs familiar Challenge Ride route back to Stockton with, for us, the compulsory stop at Archers Ice-Cream Parlour. A lovely 36 miles home at an average of 14.7mph. The perfect end to a perfect weekend. Thank you all.
The start of day two - all smiles at the moment - little did they know what was to come!
Some of the lovely views we saw.
Ladies Rides >