Having accomplished new dad duties for the weekend, I pitched up Saturday afternoon with a freshly made industrial BBQ, just in time for the sun to pack up and let the rain take over. A little bit of accelerant got things going as the BBQ was fired up ready for the first riders to return to camp. It didn't take long for the field to fill with muddy, tired bikes and riders, full of tales of river crossings, mechanical 'events' and epic miles, especially for those that headed north to the Scottish borders. It was clear that for those who had not ventured this way before, the riding had been a bit of an experience, but everyone made it home safe and sound. The BBQ and Neil's furnace kept off the cold and drizzle well into the evening.
My KTM 450 had been parked up for a bout six weeks due to the arrival of my daughter Juniper, so the fact that Sunday started wetter than Saturday had finished really didn't dent my enthusiasm. Not so for some of the rest of the riders as I rode into Neil's field to see a few too many bikes already loaded up on trailers ready for the off. A real shame as by mid morning we were back to fine dry skies again. Oh well I guess it made the drive back south pleasant.
Seven hardy souls headed out for a shortish run up to Bellingham, one of three classic days out in the area. Davy Myers took lead, I swept up, and in between us rode Andy, Russel, Shaun, Chris and Martin. Our route took us through farmland just north of Hexham, and on up in the direction of Kielder, the massive forest plantation in the North Tyne Valley.
The going was wet and slippy and it didn't take long for Shaun to come unstuck on his massive KTM 990 in a field without a single obstacle other than grass. I took advantage of the short pause whilst he heaved the beast upright to give Andy's 250 a spin. Now there's the bike I should have put a deposit on three years ago…
As a 'hangover' day, the ride was spot on. A leisurely lunch in Bellingham to refocus and just enough challenging lanes to bring us back. First up, The Ash. A river crossing that has become deeper and deeper over the years, partly due to the strength of water that flows through it, and partly some suspect due to a little mischief on the landowners part. Either way, it was deep, too deep to charge through blindly.