I live in relatively big city, even within which there is some great riding, but am really blessed in that in a little over an hours drive you can find yourself in the picture above which gives me the perfect opportunity to clear the mind, breath the air and enjoy the simple pleasure that is cross country riding. Now unlike many cyclists I don’t own a vast collection of bikes and have never had to use either of the following forumlae for calculating whether or not I have too many bikes (n+1 where n=the number of bikes you currently own) or (s-1 where s=the number of bikes you own at which point your partner will leave you). I have but the one trusty stead, a battered hardtail with lockout front forks, which I use for all my riding – in the week to work and on the weekends off road simply swapping the tyres between each type of ride. This means that I really need to clean and maintain my bike better than I do and it’s definitely something that I need to be much much better at. While I put the pennies aside and save up for some more bikes I dream of an inspector gadget like button on the bars that I can press that would turn my bike into whatever was suitable for the riding I was doing, oh and while I’m at it I’d also like a rider superpower button that could turn my riding into a highly skilled style for the relevant terrain instead of my normal bumbling efforts. So Saturday night saw me getting the bike ready for off road duties by putting the nobblies on.
Since the last weekend ride in scorching sunshine it has been bucketing it down in almost biblical fashion so I was expecting to get severely wet on the ride but despite this we had all decided that whatever the weather we would ride so it was a great surprise to wake up and find it not actually raining. We’d done a bit of careful planning to try and find a route that would not be too boggy and after a gentle warm up with a few miles on the tarmac the first climb took us up on to a lovely well drained grassy moorland with incredible panoramic views and clouds that throughout looked pretty threatening.
The climbing although long was not unduly tough and when it plateaued out there was some great riding along the top, most of which was fairly dry as the water had run off into the swollen rivers of the valley below. It did however leave some great fun fords that needed crossing.
This led to a fantastic descent down that was perfect for me, not too fast, rocky or technical but plenty to keep your eye on and your wits about you. We’re all fairly old school riders and don’t have any fancy GPS kit so it necessitates getting the old map out and all standing around trying to work out where we are which is always fairly hilarious as we sort of know but are never quite sure.
Once we’d worked our way off the mountain and back towards civilisation I spied this unusual sign and then crept nervously closer to watch the bees working before quickly saddling up and heading off again.
Back at the village we set off from, we sat outside a cafe marvelling that we’d got round the whole morning’s ride without a drop of rain falling which hardly seemed possible given the week we have had and as I type this the rain is pelting down again on the roof. We also got chatting to some roadies (there were plenty out today whereas we only saw 3 other mtbers) as I definitely fancy doing some road riding (once I get the bike) but how to fit it all in seems a problem. One of them had an interesting weather based way of deciding what he rides – wet then mtb, dry then road. Food for thought there and also good to see that roadies and mtbers can hold a civil conversation in the same cafe ! Of course no matter what you ride it’s imperative to replace the lost fluids.
So I went out expecting the worst but this turned out to be one of the best routes we’ve done for a while and is a good one to have up the sleeve as I reckon it’s rideable in almost any weather. Right best go and change my tyres ready for the commute tomorrow.