Fun in Northumberland

Its been a while since I wrote a run up, life just seems have gotten hectic :/. I thought I would try and get back into the habit.

Saturday morning saw six of us meet up near Prudhoe and head northwards. It was one guys first time out, another was doing some run leader training. Once I’d adjusted my distance from him to account for the notice he was giving of turnings, and the hard braking wondering whether to even attempt the corner or not was unnecessary, things were better.

The new guy did really well considering although the trickier muddy sections did catch him out a few times. Having a video camera means you can catch the action shots if you’re in the right place:

Watching him accelerate towards where the group was parked up, not realising the shallow water he was accelerating through turned into a deep ford had entertainment value when he got a face full of spray as his front wheel sank. Steve, back marking showed how to do it by taking it at a higher speed but with the front wheel raised to avoid the water himself.

Things weren’t too eventful, I managed to stall a few times in stupid places and get entangled with the odd dead tree. Nic was complaining about his chain sounding odd but nothing was spotted as wrong. We debated whether a certain trail would even be passable as the river had been eroding the path through. It was decided to take a look. The sight that greeted us was this:

A near vertical 14ft drop on the other side of the gate.

We managed to get one bike through by holding it against the fence by brute force. The barbed wire inflicted injuries received meant we decided against it for another bike. We therefore tried lowering the bikes down the bankside. Standing under a bike being lowered is a little scary but by the 5th bike we had this down to an art. Sadly whilst I’d setup the helmet cam with a good view on the other riverbank the video footage of this didn’t save to the memory card :(.

Despite being exhausted, we still had the major river crossing just after this to worry about. Arrival on the scene saw Steve struggling which is unusual. The entry to the river where a tributary merged turned out to be scarily deep. I watched four bikes make it through (just) and one fall in. I managed to fall into a deep section of stream trying to help them. I then tried riding it myself having found the raised sections of river bed but I spectacularly failed and ended up completely drowning the bike on the tributary. After pulling it onto the bankside, I emptied the airbox, removed the spark plug, we got the bike upside down, emptied the water out the exhaust and engine and wrung out the air filter. I then spent an age trying to start it, getting water on the plug, removing it, drying it, trying to start it, removing it, drying it etc., repeating the cycle 7 or 8 times. The other bike was going again by this point so we eventually decided to push it through the river and tow start it on the other side. It was noted that my rear shock linkage bearings had collapsed, I’d swear they’d been fine when I’d set out that morning but the back end of the bike now had 4″ of play in it. Not good. I decided to ignore this.

Nic offered to tow me onto harder ground, whilst he did this there was a nasty noise coming from somewhere. I didn’t have the option of stopping and the bike eventually fired up. I took it for a trip up the road revving it hard to try and get the engine to clear. It wouldn’t and I was getting seriously worried. I turned around and headed back to the group to find Nic stopped. His rear wheel bearing had collapsed with the effort of towing me. It has likely been going earlier in the day and towing me had just finished off but I did feel a little guilty. Nic opted to limp the 1 mile to the pub and lunch. I could barely get my bike to start, and when I did it wasn’t running right. Eventually I realised the choke was on, stopped and turned it off. Pulling away I ended up on one wheel as the engine was working properly again but my brain was still expecting it not to.

At the lunch stop Nic phoned for recovery, we ate, left him with a pint and continued on. We went down a lane I’ve never seen before and ended up at another ford, this time with a rock bed. My bike didn’t seem to want to work, stalling and being hard to find neutral on. Eventually I worked out the clutch cable was popping out the perch and improvised a quick repair with a cable tie. I made it through the river, the new guy made it most of the way but ended up pushing it out after loosing confidence 3/4 of the way across.

The next ford wasn’t too bad, it has a horrible drop in but turned out not to be too deep.

One of the remaining guys decided he was heading home as he didn’t like to look of the water in his gearbox oil so that left four.

We continued on covering a few more interesting lanes, the new guy had a spectacular trip off line into a field made all the more impressive by managing to stay on. One more little ford and a horribly muddy waterlogged bank and it was time to split up and head home.

Rather low mileage mostly caused by the double bike drowning and the vertical descent. After being drowned by bike refused to idle and was generally being a pain. I thought I could hear something metallic coming from the engine at times which is a little worrying. I’m hoping the idle problem was the waterlogged air filter.

My bike needs its kickstart mechanism replacing, an oil change, oil sump bolt helicoiling, clutch cable fixing properly and the rear suspension linkage bearings replacing at the very least before it next goes out. I can barely move today.