Hi there Cycling Fans (and if you don’t cycle- you should)
I live in Northumberland, Hexham, in the UK. I tell anyone not from England, I don’t live that far from Scotland. Northumberland does look a lot like the highlands, and the cycling is awesome. The long smooth country roads that blend into the hills, the Tyne, Hadrians Wall, and farm land. A lot of the time, it’s so quiet I can normally cheekily put my headphones in (probably not the best idea in busy traffic) and sink into that ‘cycling zone’.
This ride was about 50 miles. It wasn’t a race; I can even remember the time it took me in. Average speed on the flat was about 20mph; fastest on the flat was 27mph, fastest on the hill 40 mph, and I couldn’t tell you what the speed was up hill. I had a few breaks, met some farmers, and took in the fantastic views. I’ve tried to give you as many stats as I can- but please accept this post to be more adventurous rather than competitive.
The first half is downhill for about 3 miles, but then is practically all up hill. Let’s just say- it’s a good warm up. I’m thankful for my carbon forks on my bike. I’m not the most natural of cyclists (6ft 2, and an athletic build) so I’ll take everything I can get, within sensible pricing! This is me at the top of the hill:
Once we’re at the top of the hills, coming back down from point A and onwards was a lot of fun- most of these roads were built by the Romans- meaning they are dead straight, 14% gradients, minimal traffic and you can really build some speed up. I managed to do 40 mph through one of the hills coupled with a strong head wind, and I find that I also start to shake at that speed through body positioning, and concentration. Just watch out for the sheep! Coming through the tops to Haydon Bridge is fun, but unfortunately fun cycling always has its price. I had to join the main A69 road for a couple of miles (lots of fast cars) and then go back over the tops through Low Gate on my way back to Hexham which is about 5 miles of constant uphill. Good for training your legs though.
As I make my way through into Hexham and Corbridge it’s all straight shooting, taking the bike into a mid-gear and taking up a nice pace of around 20mph. I made my way over the Tyne Bridge at Hexham which is quite the view in its own right:
This is what I love about Northumberland. It’s not crowded by people, and the beauty is kept protected by the people that live here. Northumberland has quite the people retention rate- it seems to me that people leave, but somehow always end up back here. I’ve cycled the UK Coast to Coast, in Amsterdam, in France, and in Ireland, but somehow it just doesn’t have the same feeling as cycling here- it’s got that personal ‘back yard playground’ feel. Living in Hexham town, or spending your time in the nearest city, Newcastle upon Tyne, you sometimes forget the detached countryside out here.
Going past Corbridge, I make my way towards Stocksfield, Mickley, and finally Prudhoe. I had a quick break here- I love cereal bars when I cycle, and I always keep them in the pockets of my cycling jersey. I fuelled up with some water from the petrol station. Prudhoe has a huge hill that is more long and steady rather than short and steep. It’s one of those hills where you take a higher gear stand up pedal hard, and then sit back down right at the back of the seat and really feel the burn in your quads in one gear lower. The ride back to my hometown is a lot easier, being mostly downhill to start with straighter sections. Having a quick break before returning home:
Where did I get my bike? Where did I get my shoes? Where did I get my components? Where did I get my kickass yellow helmet? Merlin Cycles is your one stop bike shop. They have provided me some of the best Continental wheels and components for my Giant bike, and stop me from cracking my head open if I did ever fall off.