So after I had done my five miles for the day I took to the driving again and Arthur and I found ourselves waiting for the troop in Haltwhistle – now I never knew this but Haltwhistle is the village that is exactly in the centre of the British Isles, so there you are.
Apart from that its remarkably unremarkable and at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon everything is shut and the place takes on the air of a post apocalypse village of the damned, everyone is either hiding indoors under the stairs or in one of many pubs and or clubs, in short you don’t need to go there because I’ve been for you, you haven’t missed much, in fact you haven’t missed anything.
The lads had a short break in Haltwhistle while Andy went to find a pub, not a very difficult task in Haltwhistle, there was one right opposite where we had parked for instance, so he went inside and we wondered why and a long while later he came back out and declared “I’d give that ten minutes if I were you”.
When asked what the bar tender had said when he walked directly into her pub, shat in her toilet and then walked directly out he would only say “She wasn’t very happy” and then he mounted his bike and rode off into the rain, hero.
Beyond Haltwhistle I thought we would have to abandon the day, it was getting late, our target was Hexham but it was a considerable distance still and there was “the serious hill” in the way but we saw them off and then we drove to Hexham, it was much further than I had realised and we sat in the car in a Waitrose car park in Hexham and I started to feel guilty, “we should really go back and see how they are doing” I suggested,
So we sat for a bit longer and we ate some of their food and drank some more of the ir Pepsi Max until eventually out of sheer boredom we took the vehicles out of Hexham and traced the cycle route backwards several miles over the top of a most delightful moorland landscape until eventually we came upon them struggling up the last of the biggest hills.
Andy of course had something wrong with his bike, Andy always has something wrong with his bike, the main thing that is wrong with his bike is that he didn’t leave it int he skip all of those years ago but as he drew up to me he pointed to his front wheel and said “I think this problem is really serious”.
Have you ever seen anyone try and ride a bike where their front wheel is only supporting the front forks by virtue of gravity and not at all securely fastened by nuts or quick release clamps ?
Somehow Andy had managed to loose both nuts off the front wheel and it now wobbled freely between the forks, one more bump and it would be off so we threw it in the back of the van and gave him the spare, thats my bike, my spare bike, he always end up riding my spare bike, or taking bits off my spare bike to replace broken bits off his broken bike, Steve Rainy Pants was all for throwing Andy’s bike over a wall and down a ravine but the scenery around here was really stunning and the sheep did not deserve to be haunted by a broken bike for the next fifty years so we took it with us in the van – after all, there may be someone even tighter than Andy who walks these parts regularly, I couldn’t bear my conscience if that person found Andys bike laying in a field and took it home declaring that “there must be years left in this bike yet…”
It was all downhill then into Hexham and we had achieved our target for day one, jump in the van and off to Newcastle for the most excellent carvery and sound nights sleep at the Innkeepers Lodge, Kenton.
…to be continued