Mmmmm so what’s changed since the pre Christmas ride, well not the wind that’s for sure as it was howling again today and has been pretty much all week culminating in me losing sections of my garden fence. Today, allied to the severe wind was a soupcon of driving rain requiring a summoning of some Flandrian spirit but the flip side was that it was perfect blow the cobwebs off weather.
Normally we always ride in the Dales, partly because of course it is beautiful, peaceful, we love the trails and the pubs are brilliant for your post ride replenishment. However I’m keen to look at different areas for a number of reasons so today we headed West instead of North and onto the Pennines, which strangely we never ride despite them being much closer. As we headed up the valley towards Todmorden noticed plenty of bikes heading up to TodCross which must have been super tough today. I also noticed the steepness of the valley ! We’d got a route planned and had fashioned waterproof route holders out of sandwich bags and headed off, unfortunately there was no time to warm up as straight away I was inching my way up the very STEEP valley sides. Thighs were burning quickly and every beer, glass of wine, mince pie, cheese and other lovely food could be felt as I groaned and huffed and puffed like Ivor the Engine on a bad day. It did not just feel like a long climb it was a long climb, made a tad trickier by the wind and rain lashing into my face. I watched PB vanish into the distance and attempted to just get my head down and pedal and slowly the Snail made it up to the top, although both of us at one point had to get of and carry / push the bikes after becoming becalmed in a swamp.
It was fantastically bleak Wuthering Heights conditions up on the top but the rain had stopped and the views were majestic, at one point you could see the city centre of Manchester in the distance which felt quite odd seeing such a large city when we felt very much out on our own up on the top. As we had not ridden here before not surprisingly we managed to go off in the wrong direction after missing a turning. We could see where we needed to get to but not how we were going to get there. A very steep off piste downhill needed negotiating, PB set off in his usual gung ho style and I watched in awe as he somehow managed to zigzag his way deftly down the hill. I attempted and came a cropper pretty quickly so decided discretion was the better part of valour and slid my way down, undignified but in one piece.
Once back on track we came across some fantastically varied riding, slippery cobbles (eeeek !), lots of slidy mud, rocks (not good at them), singletrack, ups and downs and pretty much all sorts of stuff. In general, a bit like the pre Christmas ride, I didn’t manage too badly and definitely feel like there is some improvement going on and certainly I appear to be a bit fitter than I was.
Incredibly despite small squalls, after the start, the rain pretty much held off even if the wind continued to howl the whole way round. All in all a good time had riding in a different area and it’s definitely one I need to explore more of. A great way to finish off 2012 and head into the new year. Cheers all.