Mr Bibby left Wooler for a mountain bike ride in the Cheviots. Photo: Lisa Jarvis CC-BY-SA-2.0

Mr Bibby left Wooler for a mountain bike ride in the Cheviots. Photo: Lisa Jarvis CC-BY-SA-2.0

The massive manhunt for a missing mountain biker in the Cheviots was suspended as night fell.

The search for David Bibby was scaled down earlier today after failing to find the cyclist in conditions described by a rescuer as some of the worst he had known.

The search was sparked when the man failed to return from a ‘long ride’ yesterday in the northernmost area of the Pennines on the Scotland-England border.

Three mountain rescue teams and a Sea King search and rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer joined the overnight search in severe weather.

Ten members of the Border Search and Rescue Unit joined Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team and the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team in the operation.

BSARU members joined the search at 3am after the Northumberland team had been called out at 11.30pm.

Mr Bibby was wearing only lightweight cycling clothing when he left his hotel in Wooler.

Damon Rodwell of BSARU said: “I’d been running up on the Border Ridge earlier in the day, accompanying the leader in the 268-mile Spine Race for an hour or so.

“The conditions on the ridge were possibly the worst I’ve ever experienced. We were both blown off our feet repeatedly, and driving horizontal snow and hail made it really pretty unpleasant.

“The strength of the gusts bowling in from the West was extraordinary. It’s difficult to convey the severity of the weather and the idea of anyone being up there on a bike, ill equipped for the weather doesn’t bear thinking about.”

The cyclist had left no route plan, and with virtually nothing to go on, search managers deployed team members to mount a hasty search of all the main valleys leading into the eastern Cheviots, on both sides of the border, while a helicopter covered the high ground linking the valleys into what would have been a circular route from Wooler.

“The wild wind of the afternoon had subsided and the temperature had dropped to a couple of degrees below zero at valley level, raising concern for a potentially incapacitated and lightly clad casualty,” Mr Rodwell said.

The hunt continued through the night until 11am when, with no sightings, it was scaled back awaiting further information.

The operation has been suspended overnight.

Mr Bibby is described as 5ft 10ins (1.78m) tall, of slim build and wearing cycling clothing.

Anyone who may have seen Mr Bibby is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 1039 150115.

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