So it’s been a pretty beautiful week weather wise, sun out, first real feel of spring in the air so of course I was really looking forward to the ride today. Sod’s law then that after the alarm went off I peeped out into the darkness to see rain lashing down but nothing was going to stop me getting out, although I have to say it was pretty perturbing to have snow coming down at one point. One of the things that I love about riding in different conditions is that as well as helping me improve my abysmal bike handling skills the countryside always looks so different. Growing up in South Wales you get pretty used to the rain which was just as well today as there was no getting away from the fact that we were going to get seriously wet. Layered up as best we could and hit the trails (the car temp gauge was 1 degree) and soon got a sweat on during the first slippy climb.
There is something that is so majestically beautiful about the dales in this sort of dark dank weather – it really felt Wuthering Heights like. The other great thing about it is that no one else is around, the rain seems to dampen all sound and for the whole ride we did not come across another single human being.
On days like this I cannot help but feel my inner child as I’m transported back to the days when getting muddy was simply what you did and that feeling of simply going weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee as you splash through puddles of goop. Now I know from bitter experience that you need to be careful going through puddles off road riding as you never know how deep they are or what rocks or roots might be in them, which can soon have you regretting the decision to ride into it, but today was simply one of those days when the child took over and I sought out every puddle I could and there were plenty to go round. Simply the best de-stressing therapy known to man.
Of course one of the other things that I find beautiful about the dales is all the dry stone walling, miles and miles of it lots of it like the examples in these photos that mark out the boundaries for the bridleways we ride. I look at them with some awe and think of the staggering amount of hours that goes into building and maintaining them. Last time I rode this route I came across a dry stone waller repairing a section and it is amazing the skill that goes into them.
It might not look it but it felt great to be out in the mud and rain, senses were heightened, blood and adrenaline were pumping and I felt so alive it felt amazing. I do wish however I could find a way to keep my feet warm, nothing else bothers me but the clipped in design seems to me to have a critical flaw – metal on your shoe clipped to metal on the pedal does not equate to much fun when it’s 1 degree so as well as being wet and muddy my feet were seriously painful. Small price to pay though for such a great ride.
And before any cold beers could be drunk a seriously hot coffee was required.
So yes it was wet today, really properly wet and freezing cold but it was fantastically life affirming and I was so glad that I experienced the dales today in all their Bronte beauty.