Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lakes ride - prep 2

I know this is a late entry as the ride was 4 days ago, Saturday 16th June 2012. If you are reading this post in the week after it was posted, you should be able to see the route in the SportsTrackLive widget at the top of the front page of this blog. If it’s later than that, here is the link for the route.

It took in total 5 ½ hours to get around. This is quite a while to cover 24 miles, but it included several stops - one lasting 40 mins for lunch. Which was fun - more on that later. It was myself and Sam, plus Colin who has recently started to get into mountain biking.


On higher ground, the trails weren’t as bad. Saying that, some sections were terrible.

I have to say that the conditions were abysmal. Constant rain and wind were the bane of our lives, making the ground ridiculously boggy. On one section of the lead mining trail leading up to actual Bolt’s Law (the highest point), I came unstuck and flopped sideways. After righting the bike, water level stood above the bottom bracket. It seemed I’d hit dead centre of a submerged rut!

Another section leading up to the first short, technical climb of the day (after approx 30 mins) was like riding up a 200m freshwater stream. The ground was relatively hard-packed, with tangerine sized stones embedded in the clay. This is usually a nice gentle climb which allows momentum and cadence to be built before reaching the tricky bit. Except that day it was a full on 3” deep, purely clear, rain water stream pouring down the hill-side. At the top of the climb, Colin said he’d bitten off more than he could chew - with these conditions he was right. Plus the fact he didn’t have a waterproof jacket was a major hindrance!

The 40 minute-ish long break came when we stopped at the picnic area next to the river at the foot of Bale Hill. This was to test out Sam’s new Jetboil, which was purchased in time for the forthcoming Lakes trip. Alas we both forgot utensils, so I stirred my pasta pot with a tyre lever and ate it with a chain tool, whereas Sam managed to wolf down a beef casserole Wayfarer with a Park Tools saw-type tool. Despite over-filling the Jetboil, it performed magnificently and we now know we can survive out on the fells even if we forget our spoons.

I’m sure Crank Brothers would be pleased they knew their awesome chain tool doubles up as an emergency spoon.

All in all I was pleased we managed to complete the route. Col left after the 1st hour by joining the road at Blanchland back to Edmondbyers. It was seriously tough going so I doubt I’d have beaten my solo personal best of 3 hrs 46 mins. It’s a good indication of what we’re to expect on Saturday and Sunday over at the Lakes.

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