A GOOD cycle ride isn't a good cycle ride without a good cafe stop.

Now, thanks to a Newton Aycliffe man you never need miss out on a nice slice of cake and a coffee.

John Bowerbank and his partner Heidi run the Cafe Network, which incorporates a Facebook page, website and App, all aimed at

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making life that little bit easier for the region's cyclists.

The Northern Echo:

Heidi and John on their bikes

With the help of fellow riders John has compiled a map of the most cycle-friendly eateries in the area and some further afield. Such has been its success it now includes recommendations for cycle shops and accommodation.

"I have been a cyclist for quite a number of years. But around 2012 I got into it more seriously, when I bought my first road bike having trekked around the countryside on a very old mountain bike," said John, who works in the financial services industry.

"I joined Strava and got in touch with some of the cyclists in Newton Aycliffe and asked to join them. After that, they formed Aycliffe Velo and I was asked to do some ride leading because the club was expanding.

"I said I needed to find some decent routes and some good cafe stops and this is where the Cafe Network came into being. I was looking for stops but not knowing the area particularly well I came to a blind alley, so I started a Facebook page to ask local riders where the best place to stop was so I could create routes around it.

The Northern Echo:

Heidi sporting her Cafe Network cycling jersey

"After I put it up, people added people and it started to take off."

John then introduced a form so people could make formal recommendations.

"From September 2015 through to now I've been creating a website to take all the traffic that was coming my way. As well as cafes, we now have clubs and accommodation and bike shops.

"The database has just expanded and expanded."

The free app has all the forms on for making recommendations and also includes a link to the map. The idea being that when people are out and about they can find a cafe en route and if they have nothing better to do can make a recommendation about that cafe there and then and send it to me.

"At the moment I have 1,146 users of the app."

"I had a huge enthusiasm for cycling anyway. I have kids and I wanted to remain fit and get my family into it as well, but it's expanded my interest. It's given me a focus when it comes to cycling. It was an interest, but this offers an opportunity to give something back, I suppose.

"This weekend will be quite busy as I have an upgrade with 80 cafes to add on. I work in the financial services industry and I cannot bring this into work, so I have had to make sure it's only on evenings and at weekends.

"I change the cover photo on the Facebook page to one of the recommended cafes every seven days. I get people to send us their club logos for the logo gallery on the website, pictures of people in front of cafes. I am always looking at ways to keep people interested. Unless you are proactive people will slowly slip away."

"I get lots of cafes contact me saying 'this is a fantastic idea. I get them contacting me all the time wanting to join, but I have to be careful because the whole thing about Cafe Network is that it's based on recommendation."