Saturday 11th February sees our 2017 training campaign get underway with an INDOOR SESSION at Walker Activity Dome (aka the Lightfoot Sports Centre), Newcastle. Start time 3:00pm finishing at 4:30. For Club members, please DO NOT take bikes in the main reception door! Use the small car park on the right just inside the Centre nearest to Walker Park (2nd entrance if coming down from St Anthony's Road) on Wharrier Street and use the side door for bike access. We should have someone there to direct.
We've publicised this extensively hoping to attract other bikers from absolutely anywhere, so please be amenable to lending out your bike as it would have been logistically impossible to take any of the Club bikes for visitors to use. Please also ensure your bikes are super clean and you have taped up your wheel nuts in case of spillage. Also make sure if you've applied oil, get rid of any drips or surplus. If this first session is a success we can look forward to staging a few more at "The Dome", so please be on best behaviour as there may be an audience for this one and the new centre management will be watching closely. This will not be the usual Mickey Mouse indoor racing, we have room for a proper track, not just a traffic island!
Thanks as ever go to our BC/CS Coach Richie Smith for managing to pull this off.
It's the Pits!
Great job completed on Wednesday afternoon, 24th August 2016 as six of us diehards laid a load of concrete to complete the pits floor. Lucky for us it was a beautiful day but the whole job only took us a few hours.
Jason gets England call-up
Jason Keith will represent England in the Over 40's Home International at Hull on 16th July. This is a great honour for our "Quiet Man" who just gets on with his riding whatever hell may be breaking loose around him. Although he wasn't in the original squad England Team Manager Steve Mullinder of Wolverhampton was quick to recognise Jason's keenness and racing ability following our own Britsh Champion, Gavin Parr's unavailability. Jason becomes only the third Viking to represent his country following Gavin and brother Michael many years before.
Wharrier the Warrior gets Freedom of the City
Well, not quite, but our soon to depart for America teammate and ace concrete spreader Daniel Wharrier did at least get one of our Club racing shirts as a keepsake and reminder to come back when his working stint over the pond is finished in a year's time. We wish you every success for the future Dan, you'll be sorely missed.
Vikings to lose Wharrier
Dan amongst the trees he loves.
Yes indeed, the worst news possible for the Vikings broke some time in February when our best bet for sub-veteran succes in the coming years, Daniel Wharrier, announced that he'd secured a job in America. Dan, an arborist, hopes to be setting sail for the equatorial Deep South in April. Initially he'll be away for about a year but who knows after that? He'll be a huge miss for us, not only points-wise in the Northern League but also for his jovial personality off-track and he's a genuinely smashing lad. A double-miss for me as I do a lot of mountain biking with Dan away from the ovals and he's always at the hub of things. He's also kept me fit for the last few years trying to keep up with him, so I'm losing my Number One pacemaker! We do, of course, wish him all the best and huge success as he prepares for this great adventure.
(Spring) Chickens Supreme
Yes indeed, a pair of old codgers (Keith Oldham and Terry Kirkup) managed to do just enough points gathering to scoop the annual Spring Best Pairs title at the AstroDrome on Tuesday 19th April. There were a few partner changes from last year but once again the meeting provided some keen contests with the points system of 4,3,2,0 requiring either a greater level of team riding than usual or a super-clever overall strategy, the latter providing Keith and his partner with the silverware!
Mind your step!
Wednesday 6th April saw more concrete evidence of our intention to develop the site at the AstroDrome with the arrival of three cubic metres of very heavy sticky stuff, destined to become our new pits floor. With the help of Jason Keith and two of his technicians, plus Gavin Parr, Dan Wharrier, Norman Carson, Keith Dyer, Jim Smith and Terry Kirkup we managed the seemingly impossible task of spreading a stiff mix of the reinforced variety. Unfortunately the weight of the stuff meant we started laying it too thickly at the initial drop point and so weren't able to stretch the load over the entire pits surface, leaving the section nearest the track gate for a later task. It was very hard going as the mixture wasn't as fluid as you'd normally get for something like a driveway but all's well that ends well, and we now know exactly what to expect when we do that last piece! Our driver was superb and did all he could to help us and offer his expert advce. Forty years ago I'd have done this myself, easy!
Vikings Head Coach Richie Smith pots more Viking Gold!
Yes, he does work while he's not around the track! And this is his reward this year for his work on projects around the UK. Well done indeed Richie, and Congratulations from all at Northumbria CSC.
But here's a bit of sad news (not too bad, don't worry!)
Wednesday 23rd March saw the completion of our latest termly sessions with the Year 8 kids at the Learning Village as part of their Challenge Wednesday activities. I'm sorry to have to report that in spite of our best efforts, the series hasn't been the success we'd hoped for and a series of unfortunate circumstances means that we will not be continuing after Easter. This is a real shame but taking an overview of the whole scheme, the only new rider it has introduced to the Club has been Samantha who of course we are very proud of, and are keen to see her regain the confidence she displayed before breaking her wrist in that unfortunate fall. However it has proved to be simply too much of a burden for three or four OAP Vikings to bear with the final two groups consuming and finally draining dry our pitifully low energy reserves in keeping them occupied and interested, particularly when not on the track. We will now revert to other, more traditional methods of attracting new junior and indeed senior riders with more youth and junior training sessions throughout the year.
Scott Latimer in surprise comeback!
Yes indeed, Scott, now in his second year at University a bit too far away, dropped in to the track on Tuesday evening 22nd March to see if he could still ride a bike! The good news is yes, he can indeed. Even better, he may well be available to us from May to September, depending upon other committments, and that could prove extremely useful as we prepare to ship Dan Wharrier off to the New World shortly!
Track superb for Cramlington Crown Individual
Yes, a very welcome though extremely unexpected treat for the Vikings who turned out to race in the Crown event (see report, results, pictures on @crammy menu above) was the fabulous condition of the track. At long last we've had some help from Mother Nature and the track was first class for this one. We've decided not to brush the surface too much this year, if at all and preferably use watering to provide a grippy surface when required. Of course brushing can't be ruled out completely but it will have to be a real necessity and will most likely be used in bone dry conditions rather than what the current climate is providing. Last years mistakes cost us many man hours of repairs and a lot of ferrying of spare material from our now depleted shale store.
Season starts with relaxed training sessions
We eased our way into training on Tuesday 16th February and Saturday 20th before speeding up a little the following Tuesday in an attempt to prepare idle legs for the onslaught of the Wednesfield Aces visit on Sunday 28th. Of course little had changed in real fitness terms as we took to the track to try and retain some honour, and the expected assasination of the Vikings was duly delivered by the Champions of the British Elite League. See full story here.
Track surface revamped
Wednesday 9th December 2015 saw Terry Kirkup meet ActiveNorthumberland's local Groundsmen Dean and Peter at the track to show them what was required for the restoration of the track surface for the 2016 season. They responded immediately by bringing out one of their mini-tractors and hooking it up to their scarifier. It took a few runs and a bit of adjustment to get the depth of cut to somewhere near 40 to 50 millimetres to ensure the spikes didn't disturb the hardcore, then it was all go as both bends were dredged in both directions. With luck our previous session of shale replenishment in the few shallows we had, and our drain clearing and stopping-up process will allow for the winter weather to finish the job for us.
Both lads were reluctant to accept our brown envelopes as Christmas gifts when TK went back to see the final outcome on 18th but did so with much gratitude. It's really great having them "on our side", as well as the rest of the Sporting Club and High School staff who got some seasonal edibles for their support.
All quiet as the season ends
After what seems like an eternity our Northern League season finally came to an end in October, Gavin's Elite League adventures with Sheffield concluded while Jim, Jason and Terry also wrapped up their nationwide Veteran's racing commitments.
Gavin won the Northumbrian Riders Championship from Jason and Terry while Lee Redshaw took the Junior trophy.
So now we only have our Tuesday night training sessions remaining for the rest of November (5:45 pm for Under 16s with Gavin, 6:30 for others) while our school Challenge Wednesday classes are due to end on 9th December, assuming the track stays rideable until then.
A great night for our Come & Try It event
Yes indeed, a very nice night, if a little cool toward the end of procceedings, but there was plenty heat generated on track by some great new, and crucially, young riders.
Northumberland County Council promoted the event through their Highways Officer Alex Thompson with extensive advertising through various channels over the past few months, culminating in this floodlit session complete with music and a touch of fancy dress humour. We were also honoured with the presence of not one but TWO British Cycling representatives and one from Sustrans!
Vikings Superstar and British Champion, Gavin Parr coached some young riders before the main competition began, and between races in this Individual event took on brilliant BMX racer Jack Watson, who famously rode just one match for us at Sheffield in 2013. So rapid is young Jack now that he was able to get straight on a bike and give Gavin some healthy exercise as they diced for position. If only we could persuade him that Short Tracking is his Big Thing!
The main event was for non-Division One riders only and after some super racing from current and debutant riders, Dean Douglas, Daniel Heppell, Dan Thompson and brand new recruit Matthew Newman came out on top.
Euro-Vets season Finale brings more silverware north
Our travelling trio of Veterans, Jason Keith, Jim Graham and Terry Kirkup raced in the final round of the Orchid Fighting Male Cancer Charity Euro-Vets Grand Prix at Bury on Saturday 10th October. Jason managed to grab third place on the rostrum on the day, and retain last year's third place overall in the Over 40s category. Terry saw out the season by winning the Over 60s section on the day and just clinching second place overall, missing out on the title he won last year by a handful of points.
Brilliant Youngsters Brave the Storm
On a somewhat less than comfortable afternoon weather-wise this Wednesday 7th October, the Vikings' "Challenge Wednesday" class of Year 8 pupils from the School performed admirably, and fearlessly, in their fourth outdoor racing session. Times are visibly improving as the boys and girls get used to the track and the quickest way around it. Today we had to cone off the inside half metre due to a massive downpour overnight. Jim Smith, Keith Dyer and Terry Kirkup spent fifteen minutes brushing the remaining pools of water off the track to assist the hard working drainage system and the track was almost as good as it was the previous evening (simply perfect!) for our regular Tuesday evening practice match. With a handful of them now having attended a Tuesday night session we're hoping we can retain the odd one for Division Two racing next year, and of course to join our Cramlington Crusaders junior side together with Lewis, Lee, Archie and Sam.
Let there be Light!
The end of September sees the Vikings electircal team (Jason and Terry) begin the installation of our DIY floodlight system. With the track expected to remain in good condition over the winer it makes sense to keep on using it for training and new membership introductions for as long as possible. Although it's given our poor Treasurer Jim Smith palpitations, we decided to splash out on a decent but super-cheap DIY system, and the result on test one of the pits bend looked pretty good. Super-cheap is largely due to the benefit we are getting from having a self-employed and pretty generous Electrician (and Sponsor) in the Club so we owe a lot to Alan Keith - JMR Limited of Wallsend. If you need any electrical work done, either domestic or commercial, try Jason first.
Gavin Parr is British Champion
We can't go on like this, surely! Super Skipper Gavin Parr has won the British Over 40s Championship to cap an astounding season for both Gavin himself and the Club. See his Final review here.
Vikings Third in British Veterans Club Championship
Yes indeed, as if the news directly below this item wasn't fantastic enough, Saturday 15th of August saw us stun the Cycle Speedway World, and of course our own, by not only reaching the Final, but very nearly claiming runner-up spot in the meeting at a very sunny Hull.
First, we managed to knock out the current title holders Kesgrave from East Anglia in our semi-final and also our great pals from Sheffield who were understrength for this one. We did have some good fortune with the winning Leicester side not going out of their way to damage any of us as theywere well in front. However, Gavin Parr and Jason Keith were on fire for the Vikings needing no such consideration.
In the Final we even shared the lead with leicester after three heats! That's when super-strong Leicester got into their stride to emerge as worthy winners, but behind them the Vikings stayed right in touch with Birmingham and Poole, a rare mistake by the Skipper dropping us out of contention for second place but the same rider snatched third place on the podium for the Northumbrians with a brilliant run-off victory, his ninth of the afternoon!
This really is the most significant and definitely proudest moment in the combined history of the Club and it's predecessor, Newcastle & District CSC and will be remembered by Cramlington's Vikings forever.
Vikings Captain Gavin Parr is Second in the World!
After a stunning performance over ten races in the World Veteran's Final at Leicester on 7th August, our amazing skipper Gavin Parr (43) became the World Number Two against a packed field of superstars from all over Great Britain, Poland and Australia. There was plenty of drama in both semi-finals with Jason Keith (in Gavin's semi) and Terry Kirkup (semi no. 1) also taking part. Jason shrugged off a recent slight downturn in form to ease into the Final along with Gavin while their Over 60 teammate just missed the cut by a single point but did, however, end the day as top Over 60 in the World!
Full story coming soon.
Vikings in World Individual Championships!
Oh yes, we're not just stay-at-home Geordies! This Friday, 7th August see three of our intrepid Senior riders travel to Leicester to take part in the Over 40s World Final. We'll be led by the Club's top two riders in skipper Gavin Parr and Jason Keith, while super-veteran Terry Kirkup will also attempt to get a place in one of the two semi-finals by way of a series of last-man-out qualifying races.
Gavin in particular stands a better than even chance of reaching the Final and is in fact one of the pre-meeting favourites after an amazing year racing for the Vikings, himself and also captaining Sheffield in the Elite League, although there are some super-strong Over 40s including current World Champion Steve Harris of Swindon as well as a handful of unkown quantitiies from Poland and Australia.
Jason must also be in with a shout of reaching the last sisxteen from an entry of thirty eight, while for Terry it's a case of this being his last and indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in a World class event, the Elder not expecting to reach the final but with a slight hope of getting into the semis.
Vikings qualify for KO Cup Final!
Yes, another pleasant surprise for the Northumbria Club as our four representatives - Gavin Parr, Jason Keith, Michael Parr and Dan Redshaw - managed to qualify from their semi-final in a run-off with Hull CSC at Stockport on Sunday 5th May. Although they then finished 4th in the 4-team Final this was yet another excellent performance from the mainly veteran Northumbria team against much younger opposition.
Youngsters to the fore on 17th May
That's the Tuesday evening we stage the Division Two Northumbrian Championship which will as the name suggests exclude Division One regulars Gavin Parr, Michael Parr, Jason Keith and Terry Kirkup. This should be the last opportunity for defending Champion Dan Redshaw to participate as he'll surely be Division One only in 2017 after some great performances this year. Age is no barrier of course, so with Dan's toughest challenge expected to come from Dean Douglas they will both have to look out for strong rides from veterans Andy Knowles, Shane Gray, Keith Oldham, Norman Carson and also Neil Magee who has shown flashes of returning to form this year. Of course the NRC finals are always prone to the odd surprise so we can't rule out never-say-die Daniel Thompson, inside line hugger Daniel Heppell or even our youngest pair of starlets, Lee Redshaw and Bradley Stansfield who have both come on leaps and bounds this season.
There are places available should anyone brand new (or a returnee maybe?) fancy a shot at the title so spread the word and let's hope for a full programme of riders for this one.
Our farthest-travelling teammate Andy Knowles, ex-Sheffield racer now domiciled in Middlesborough, has now completed FOUR YEARS with the Vikings. Not only that but he has also been our most reliable rider in that time, a truly fantastic achievement and fully deserving of his much-belated "Clubman of the Year" award for 2016. He has probably also been responsible for most of his various teammates' scoring over this period being a fully committed team rider, often at cost to his own scoring. See his beaming smile at the top of this page as he helped us to second place in his first ever British Final in the 2016 Veteran's Club Championship at Wednesfield. Well done Andy and thanks for this terrific support.
Vikings do the Big One
Both youngster Lee Redshaw and Veteran Jason Keith were out to seek glory at the end of August over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Lee made his first appearance in a British Under 13 Championship at Horspath (Oxford) while Jason travelled to Swindon to tackle the British Over 40s event. Unfortunately neither had the best of days when bad weather hit the central part of the UK, but surely this was great experience for Lee.
Lee Stars at Bury
Our young hopeful Lee Redshaw almost pulled off a fabulous win in his first ever attempt at anything outside of Cramlington when he finished joint top scorer on 19 points at the Northern League Individuals on 17th July. Lee had beaten the other finalist during the heats but just lost out in the Under 13 run-off. Well done Lee on a fantastic effort, and Good Luck from all at Northumbria CSC as you try to reach the podium in the British Under 13 Final at Horspath (Oxford) at the end of August.
Tuesday 24th May and it was Terry's turn to attend another function on behalf of the Vikings. This one a presentation on "Sport For Development" jointly staged by Gail Ballance of Northumberland Sport and Sported's North East Regional Manager Emily Burns at Ashington Hirst Miner's Welfare Centre. There were only five other groups represented at this limited access event and it was good to hear their stories and see just how alike so many of us minority sports or small local clubs are in respect of what we do, how we attract and retain new members and what are our most important needs. Much importance was placed on community involvement, and here I think we are now doing our bit within our limited resources. Although the emphasis was not on funding (so important also to those I spoke to), advice was made available should it be needed. Of course in this respect we are well represented by Richie Smith and have done pretty well. We also have healthy Social Media and Internet presence which were two aspects of the presentation considered very important. Ongoing.
Once again, following a very productive meeting between Richie Smith, Terry Kirkup and Arlene Ainsley of the TBSF on 13th May, the support organisation has offered to contribute half the cost of three Level 3 Cycle Speedway coaching courses for the Vikings. Currently we have Richie with a full Level 2 certification, Terry and Gavin Parr still to complete their third day to achieve the same, while Alun Morley and Simon Watson (both attached to and coaching primarliy at Barnesbury CC) are also potential candidates. We'd once again like to thank TBSF for their continuing support not just of ourselves as we seek to improve everything about our "back office" at NVCSC but also many other minority sports clubs.
On Tuesday 3rd May Richie Smith and Terry Kirkup met with Active Northumberland's Disability Inclusion Officer at the AstroDrome to discuss the possibility of staging a taster session for a group of 14 to 18 year olds. These lads are already mad keen bikers so there should be some brilliant action on the day. With Richie still working in Coventry it would be good to have some backup for Terry for these two sessions in August. Further details will follow nearer the time but provisional plans are for
- Wednesday 3rd August
- Wednesday 17th August
Both would be around 10.30-12.00.
Richie Smith and Terry Kirkup were on their travels on Friday 15th April to meet with Active Northumberland's Community Sports Manager Lee Paris at Blyth Sports Centre. This meeting represented the start of our push to provide outreach facilities to as many interested parties as possible outside of the AstroDrome. Richie and Gavin Parr are already booked in for a demo at the Children's Cancer Run at Gosforth Park on Sunday 15th May but we are keen to extend the opportunities to see and take part in our Sport throughout our wider "home" community of South East Northumberland, and maybe further out later on. We were given a whole stack of contact details for local schools and other organisations, as well as being offered the possibility of inclusion in the summer sports leaflets which are widely distributed to local communities.