Aww man what have I done?! As I picked myself up I knew I’d bashed my face but everything else seemed to work. The bike was easy to find, being brightly lit front and rear, and I staggered down the rest of the rough track to the road heading for home. A few hundred yards down I jumped back on the bike, which seemed fine apart from the handlebars being slightly out of alignment, and weaved my way un-steadily back to safety.

I clearly needed more than paracetamol. Testing my reflexes in the local hospital showed my co-ordination wasn’t what it should be. Fears of a neck injury soon had me strapped to a rigid board and rushed to a bigger hospital. What I hadn’t known at the time (revealed by the GPS trace from my watch)  was that I hadn’t moved for about half an hour after the impact, presumably unconscious….

FullSizeRender (2)

The trace shows a sudden stop and 30 min stationary……

So with a broken maxilla, floor of orbit and zygomatic arch (none of which needs treating thankfully) and a twanged neck which has left me with slowly reducing fizzing and tingling (painful) sensations in my finger I’m off work with time to reflect and update my thoughts on the bike, which is fine!

The Kielder 101 was a great event. Well supported, well organised with echoes of the original Kielder 100. It was a grand day as well and the midges were bearable. The bike was excellent. Fire-roads suited it well as did most of the ascents – I’ll admit I couldn’t live with the full suss 29ers or even hard tails on the down hills. The Kielder trails are really rough in places – I got a pinch flat after about 15 miles- and I felt pretty battered at the end of it even though I’d wrapped cushioning under the bar tape. Getting the pressure right in the tyres helps but in race conditions the temptation to really push it risked pinch flats – I wasn’t the only one by any means.

Scared to jump Thanks SportSunday
Scared to jump
Thanks SportSunday

I was third Monstercross – not the bike’s fault. So, not the fastest or most comfortable on the rough stuff but more than capable (and possibly faster) on the rest. Also, if you weren’t racing, more than able to deal with this terrain. I’d fitted a QR seatpost clamp which I didn’t actually use – a dropper would be awesome 🙂

Less than a week later the Tour of Britain passed close by. I watched it in 2008 when it passed through Morpeth and it was a bit of a damp squib – the cyclists cruised by to the muted applause and cheers of a few mildly interested folk and one very keen gentleman with a folding bicycle who was getting the train between vantage points! This time was very different. There were people in the peleton you’d heard of, some of whom were national sporting heroes. The sense of anticipation had built as towns and villages were decorated, ready to welcome the teams. Even the local weather forecasters incorporated a cycling specific element to their predictions. It wasn’t quite Tour  de France levels of excitement but it was as close as normally quiet Tynedale villages could get.

Decorations in Haydon Bridge
Decorations in Haydon Bridge

Like many people I watched the race on the hill out of Haydon Bridge (a KOM) then jumped on my bike and rode up to the top of Hartside to see the finish. Again the weather was great and I was lucky to have the company of Adam Wild, my friend Nick’s son, who is a top time triallist and very fit. Also lucky for me he was on an easy ride with just some ‘efforts’ up the hills as part of his training plan. The Reiver with road wheels and tyres on was an unknown quantity on this kind of pure road outing but of course you know I’m going to say it coped well – of course it did!

Roadified Reiver
Roadified Reiver

The only weakness was the gearing – the hill down from Hartside could have done with a slightly higher gear rather than frantically spinning and coasting all the time. I’ve since swapped the 34t chainring for a 40t one and this has added the extra push at the top.

I said before this bike isn’t about going fast and it really isn’t but I feel I ought to say that, according to Strava, I’ve  gone a bit faster up some bits of road than before, sometimes from a couple of years before. Nice to know it’s not the bike holding me up….

So I’m about 400 miles into this exploration of this bike and have tried most types of riding. There are probably only 2 or 3 days when I haven’t ridden this bike since I got it (until I crashed of course) which tells me something about how much I like it. Even though I cannot work I can walk to the garage (reference to a Geordie dialect joke there ..) and admire it  until I can ride it again. I think the next thing I haven’t tried is to load it up with luggage and explore further afield. Time to dream…..

Hartside forjenn
Early Morning Hartside #forjenn



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