Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge

Quick info
Date: Saturday 30 June
Distances:  Ride A 33 miles, Ride B 63 miles, Ride C 104 miles

It was suggested I combine a trip up north visiting family with the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge, a ride in the beautiful Northumberland countryside on quiet lanes through unspoilt villages.

It sounded so pleasant; little did I know the North-East would be hit by the biggest thunderstorm in years just before the event.

However, the threat of more rain failed to deter the hardy cyclists who turned up in their droves for the challenge. The first 32km eased us in gently with a few rolling hills, then we got a taste of what was to come with a climb up to Forestburngate feed station.

After everyone was suitably refreshed the hills started to kick in, with very little let-up; they just kept on coming but the gradients were manageable.

Approaching the infamous Ryals, I was greeted by the sight of people walking up a hill so steep it looks like a wall. Slowly and steadily I began to climb, encouraged by others walking by my side. Getting three-quarters of the way up I found that I didn’t have the power to get the wheels to turn so I admitted defeat and joined everyone else walking to the top.

The next hill after that was so much easier and from the final feed station in Stamfordham back to Kingston Park it was a breeze by comparison. Overall it was a very enjoyable ride and thank goodness the rain held off till the end.

Distances:  Ride A 33 miles, Ride B 63 miles, Ride C 104 miles
Terrain: Roads/hilly.
Best bit: Well organised.
Worst bit: No toilets at first feed station.

Try it yourself…

This year’s event takes place on June 29 and will run from the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club in Brunton Bridge. Three routes are on offer with entries costing from £12.50-£25.

This article was first published in the February 28 issue of Cycling

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