Preparations for the ride

The 135 mile Three Rivers routes generally follows railway paths, minor roads with a few short sections oN busy roads.

Planning - Maps and guides
There are many useful maps and guides available covering the Three Rivers.
Sustrans map - The Three Rivers - (Code NN14).
OS Landranger 1:50000 maps
, nos. 88 and 93

A series of 3 maps produced by Durham County Council:-
North "Skirting the Cities - Routes to Roam"
West "Hills and Hollows - Trees and Trails"
South "City and Towns - Tracks without Trains"

CycleCity Tyneside
CycleCity Sunderland / Durham

Plus a selection of local town cycling guides available from Tourist Information Centres.

Read these guide notes and plan your daily journey.
Read the advice page before setting of to check for any problems, detours, advice from other riders etc.

For the majority of this route you are not far from towns.
Check the weather forecast, take adequate foul weather clothing (i.e. waterproof NOT showerproof and preferably breathable) and emergency rations.
You will need to carry all your personal belongings, clothing, tools etc. either in some panniers or in a rucksack.

Make sure that you are physically prepared by doing some training rides prior to attempting the route. You don't have to be Superman to complete it, but, you do need to know that you can manage more than 10 miles on a bike before collapsing in a heap! Include some hill climbing - although this route does not have the steep, long hills of the C2C - there are still some climbs over the Pennine watershed and along the Tyne valley.

As most of this route is either on minor roads or surfaced off-road tracks most bikes will be suitable but I would not recommend a full racing bike.
Tandems, Recumbent, Tricycles may find some sections awkward but not impossible due to control barriers.

Anything apart from full slick or narrow racing bike tires - I use Specialized Nimbus Armadilio 26" x 1.5" tires which have low rolling resistance and have the added benefit of full Kevlar jacket protection - well worth it if you cycle a lot in urban areas with attendant broken glass problems.

Essential tools and spares to carry - see side panel
At least one spare inner tube - preferably two - the urban areas of cycleways can be plagued with broken glass.
Know how to repair a puncture and replace a broken chain link.

Check over your bike
Give your bike a service and try it out before the ride.
Below is a basic (very basic) list of checks you should carry out on your bike before you start and don't do them the night before you set off!
If you are in any doubt as to your competence regarding cycle maintenance then take your bike into the local bike shop to get it serviced.
Make sure that the blocks are not rubbing on the tyre when you apply your brakes, also check that the blocks hit the rim squarely and do not slide under the rim. Check that the blocks are not overly worn and that they connect with the rim cleanly.
Check that neither the gear or brake cables are frayed. If they are replace them.
The tires should be inflated correctly to manufacturers recommendations and check the amount of tread left, if in doubt replace them.
Apply lubrication to front and rear mechs, brake holder pivots, all entry and exit points on cable outers, chain, brake lever pivot points and reapply lubrication at the end of each days riding.
Clean and lubricate your chain before the ride - you will be amazed at the difference in pedalling efficiency this makes.

Check out the spares list on the right hand side of this page for a basic list of kit to take with you.

Book your accommodation in advance and advise your lodgings if you are going to arrive late - to avoid having your room being given to someone else.

The Ride

Wear comfortable clothing- padded shorts are a must - get used to wearing them before the ride and above all wear them next to the skin - NEVER wear underwear beneath them.
Wear layers of light breathable clothing - that way you can remove a layer as you warm up and replace it when you cool down.

Carry enough fluids / drinks especially if it is a hot day.

Do not underestimate the amount of liquid you will need to carry, the norm should be two bottles in the morning and two in the afternoon but a lot more if it's hot.

Personally I prefer High Energy Isotonic drinks backed up by energy bars during the actual ride and leave the main meal until completion of the days cycling.

By all means take a mobile phone with you but for some of the  route the reception will be non-existent or poor at best especially in the hilly central areas.

If you plan to ride road sections late in the day then take some lights with you because even in summer the mist can come down very quickly in the hills or unforeseen punctures etc. can slow you down - it is still a good idea to carry lights with you regardless.
A rear flashing light is excellent for letting cars know you are ahead even in daylight.

It is a good idea to take a bike lock with you, whether going into shops etc. for food/drink or just visiting somewhere en-route as it makes it a lot less daunting for you leaving your pride and joy knowing your bike is safely locked and will be there on your return.

You will find that your bike handling skills quickly improve during the ride, hills that were near impossible at the start of the ride will seem a lot easier at the end and you will very quickly learn how to pick the best line between the doggy deposits!

Carry some identity with you including an emergency contact phone number.

Above all enjoy the ride.

© Doug-on-the-Tyne - 2004

Check List

Tool kit
chain splitter
chain links
allen keys
adjustable spanner
spoke key
tyre levers
strong tape/zip ties

lights and batteries
brake blocks
straddle wires
puncture repair kit
inner tube
bike lock

Personal kit
waterproof liners
basic first aid kit
antiseptic cream
midge spray
emergency rations
water bottle
change of clothes
route map

cycle shorts
cycling shirt
fleece top
helmet and gloves
windproof top
cycling footwear







bike !