I decided to do something a bit different cycle-wise at the weekend. I had heard there was an international bonsai superstar in residence at Willowbog and thought I’d tie in a visit to bow at the feet of the Great One with a nearby cycle event I’d just been made aware of – the Bellingham Blast. This is a two-day event featuring a short family ride on the Sunday around the immediate area, and a longer, 61mile, challenge through Kielder Forest and right around Kielder Water. Part on road but mostly on whin track, the route was a rather good one and it certainly was a challenge. I did some 4000+ feet of climbing (and burned up over 3500 calories) over the constantly undulating route. There were only two negatives: first, the signage was on the poor side especially at the start where the absence of a directional arrow had me going round the route the wrong way (not the first time in my life I’ve been going the wrong way at things!). My annoyance at the bum steer as it were was soon tempered by the fact that I was intercepted by a marshal who was actively looking for me and a couple of other riders who had taken the same wrong direction. To have recognised that riders had not made the first checkpoint within a rsensible timefarme was great proactive marshalling and a far cry from what I had experienced at the Pedal for Scotland event.
The second negative, for me anyway, was the long section of road metal surface which is a particular dislike of mine. I guess this is simply because I am first and foremost a roadie as is quite evident from the fact that I really don’t like bumping and sliding around like those other types of cyclist. 😉 Fortunately it was soon over and I was just glad that my wrong route had meant that I was heading down the largest slope in that section rather than up. I was also very glad I had taken the Surly as it allowed me to make speedier progress over the lakeside trail than I would have done on an MTB.
All in all this was an excellent event and I hope to be able to do it again next year. At least I’ll know which way to go.