The Tyne Valley

Kill or Cure

I’m ill still, not well, not man flu but just feeling all bunged up and can’t decide if its a head cold or hay fever or a mix of both. The cough is heading south to the chest and I’m faced with a prospect of going back to bed, long wait in the Nearest NHS Drop in Centre or what? A run, no that doesn’t feel good, or a troll out on the bike? Maybe if I can just blast the gunge away, and the weather is as good as its been since last summer, positively glorious sunshine but not too hot.

The bike it is then, where? up the Tyne Valley, to Hexham along the back roads. So with the GPS strapped to the handlebars and the bike strapped to my feet (SPD pedals) off we go!


The view from  the Rat at Anick back towards Corbridge,
12.6 miles. Now return via lower route and hope I haven’t overdone it.

Oatens Bank is the short 2 mile stretch of road that takes you from Horsley and the A69 and Harlow Hill on the Military Road. It was on the last Tour of Britain as the top half of the Hill Climb in the area. The lower half being the pull up from the Tyne at Ovingham to High Barns Farm, but that’d be my finish later today.

The route takes the hill full on and it’s just unrelenting but I manage. By the time I get to the top I’m warm, very warm and believe that its doing me good, just press on. The next stretch is down the hill, 30+ MPH to the reservoirs the a series of right angle bends to the back roads that effectively run parallel to the main roads and are almost dead straight, Roman probably, and quiet, head down push on, swerve at the last minute to miss the car approaching which you didn’t hear ‘coz you head’s all bunged up still, thats clearing, and you’re doing nearly 25 mph and the scary adrenaline rush gives you a momentary boost to get over the next brow before the legs start to feel weak. The next junction, where next? consult the GPS, guess at the direction, Aydon Castle, dodge tourists in the road on foot and cars, press on. This looks familiar but not from the bike, damn its steep, stop, push on. The Rat at Anick is a great place for a stop and lunch or so I though. Fluid is ok but I can’t face a full Sunday Roast, that’s all that’s on offer, so push on, or back now towards Corbridge, 12+ miles done and its starting to get hard. Corbridge reached in short order, it’s mostly down hill. Tea and enormous slice of flapjack, rest and recuperation watching the world go by from the market square.

Now the hard work starts. The route is familiar as its the same as the Tynedale Harrier’s 10 Mile Jelly Tea race, the climb out of Corbridge being just the start. The road then follows the Tyne for much of the way towards Ovingham, the exception being the short very sharp and very steep hill just before the village. In race terms it’s mile 9 and a bugger, today it’s mile 20 or so and it nearly kills me but there’s more to come.

At that point I’m passed by another cyclist, I’ve seen a few today mostly going the other way or on mountain bikes and going slower then me, this one is tall and lean and fast (and female, although that’s not relevant) and I get dragged along to the village of Ovingham itself. This peleton of just two doesn’t last long however as any gradient now has me crawling to a snails pace. I turn off for the last leg, the pull up the hill towards Horsley and home. Remamber I said it’s the bottom half of a ToB hill climb, it hurts a lot. Stop, rest, push on again and then we’re at the top, the final mile or so to the village and home is a relief.

25 miles almost to the nail, just over two hours, no where near tri speeds or even normal cruising but felt very good having done it, bloody shattered mind.

And for the cold? it didn’t kill me, the cure’s only partial but way better than the NHS Walk in Centre.

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