For one reason or another I’ve not been able to get out mountain biking for a while but was determined to try and get a pre Christmas ride in somewhere, all the shopping was done yesterday so my good friend PB (in the fetching bandana above !) was up for sneaking up into the Dales. My general approach is that once we decide to ride then ride we do no matter what the weather, there are many times when you look out of your window in the morning and it does not look good but if you can force yourself out then I find that I almost always have a good time. Now to say we’ve been seeing a bit of rain lately would be somewhat of an understatement so picking somewhere that might give us some good riding without sinking into a bog proved a challenge but a plan was hatched.
The roads were empty and the sky’s leaden but it was not rain that was going to be the problem today but the gale force winds that were moving the car as we headed up into Dales. It felt great to think of everyone battling after the sprouts in the supermarkets while we got kitted up ready to ride, getting some very quizzical look from the few people around. Once we’d cycled out of the village unsurprisingly we didn’t come across a soul, the trails were ours.
The only snag being the Wind and that was Wind with a capital W. I’ve never tried to ride in anything quite as strong and inching my way uphill was made very tough. I had my head almost down on the risers in an attempt to cut through it but the wind was actually gripping the visor of my helmet making it tricky to even look straight ahead and the water streaming out of my eyes added to the general torrent of water cascading off the hillsides. The trickiest bit though was trying to keep the line you were going to ride, time after time as you approached the line you had picked the wind would simply blow you somewhere else. At one point as I picked my way through one section a gust literally blew me off my bike, luckily onto a soft landing. Once PB realised I was OK he simply stood there laughing as there I was on my back, my pack making me look like the Beetle from Metamorphosis as I thrashed around trying to right myself. However once moving again I was really proud that despite a couple of bits where for both of us the wind was simply too strong to ride I made it up to the top, strangely riding as well as I’ve done for a long time. Even PB was complementary of my riding and strength so I knew something was going well.
Before we could get to the main downhill stretch there were a few small undulations before a ford crossing and a stretch along the top. By this time you had to actually lean your bike over as if cornering to simply ride in a straight line and the small downhills had to be pedaled down otherwise you would come to a stop. Strange but exhilarating. Of course on the top we had to stop for the obligatory pre Christmas mince pie. My decent riding continued as I rode the downhill stretch as well as I ever have done, not bunny hopping, but timing the approach to objects in the trail well enough to pop my front wheel up and over and trying to keep my grip loose to let the bike skittle freely over the rocks and stones, something I always struggle with but there was definite improvement today.
No one else was crackers to be out on the tops today but we both felt totally buzzing by the effort to get up there and savage beauty of the Dales in all it’s windswept beauty as we barreled along. So so glad we made it out, it’s always worth the effort. Mud-splattered and ruddy faced we got some pretty strange looks as we enjoyed our post ride pint. I couldn’t capture the gale force winds but hope that photos give a flavour of the raw beauty we experienced today. Can’t wait for the post Christmas ride now, hope it’s as much fun.