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The cyclone is an annual cycling sportive for riders of all abilities with 3 distances to tackle, 31,63 or 103 miles. I took on the 63 miler, which is long enough to tackle on a mountain bike. The route is all on roads and so myself and Michael Hannah (who joined me on this challenge) were constantly being overtaken by road cyclists on their super lightweight bikes, whizzing past at faster speeds uphill than we could manage on a big heavy mountain bike. It did mean that going downhill proved fast though, as the added weight gave gravity a helping hand and we reached speeds of up to 42 mph on the best bits. The flip side was that during the steepest uphill sections that speed was little more than 4.2 mph - especially on the notoriously difficult Ryal Hills.


It's a great day of cycling however, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a leisurely cycle, with some fantastic views and Northumberland scenery, plus it is extremely well organised. There is in fact a whole weekend to get involved in, and as is traditional, we went down to Exhibition Park in Newcastle on the Friday evening to register and collect numbers, watch some of the professional riders in the criterium races and enjoy a cheeky pre ride beer (just the one of course).


Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and we made it to the start line at Kingston Park at around 8:10. The day stayed fair and dry, and although there was a bit of wind around it was almost perfect conditions for a cycle. 22 miles in or so and after the first steep climb of the day came Forestburn and the first feed station, which we were ready for. Energy bars, bananas, water and Powerade were all on offer and gratefully received, along with a short rest for the legs. Unfortunately given the weather, the midges were out in force, and so we both ende up with quite a few bites, which didn't appear until after the race thankfully, but are in full itchy irritation mode still now (Monday).


The longest section followed taking us from 22 to 53 miles, around Northumberland, including the super steep Ryals, before the next feed station at Stamfordham. It is great when you get there - the hardest part is done, there is only 10 miles to go and you get to fuel up again! So off we set, making good time and on for a great finish, only to be slightly foiled by some drawing pins, which we both managed to pick up in our tyres. Mine was the front wheel, and it was decided to ride on without removing it and see if it would deflate, or how far we could get until it needed repairing. Michael then noticed he had one in the back tyre, and again we carried on. With about 4 miles to go, mine was still holding out, but Michaels was starting to deflate, but we pressed on convinced that we would make it - and make it we did, although only just! It required some slow cycling and a very careful last couple of bends in the road, but we crossed the line after an official time of 5:36:03. After hastily collecting our t-shirts and goody bags, it was off to the pub to recover, have some lunch and a well earned pint in the beer garden!

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