Friday, 21 September 2012

Lakes ride - 6 Passes in 2 days - DAY 1

It has been almost a month since we completed the ride that Sam & I thought would really challenge us. I haven't blogged about it since we finished it for a number of reasons; there's been a lot of other more important stuff to do but the main reason would be: There wasn't a whole lot of riding involved. As Sam succinctly put it half way up one of the passes: "Mountain biking in the Lakes is an oxymoron".

Yes, there were mountains. And yes, there were bikes. But was there any kind of trail riding? Maybe. Take a look below at Sam making his way on the ascent up Scarth Gap Pass:


How exactly do you ride up this?!
So day 1 was pretty much the same for the climbs, literally. We were pretty fed up to be honest. We made it over Scarth Gap into Black Sail Hut which was so surreal and a welcome respite that it absurdly made the blood, sweat and almost tears of frustration worth it.

Sam preparing our mid-ride meal
We had 3 of these types of pass in day one, so we knew what was to come after we had our Wayfarer meals cooked in Sam's trusty Jetboil: climbing with bikes and 10Kg packs on our backs. I was on my knees at one point getting over a ledge on Black Sail Pass.

The descending on the other hand, was insane. So steep and rocky that our hardtail XC bikes couldn't really handle it, brake discs boiling water as we rode through it due to the brakes being held on otherwise you would accelerate into warp speed nearly instantly. Punctures were a bain of my life in the first day, the first coming from a "Puncture Wizard" as we christened him - a probably irate hiker who asked "Have you had any punctures yet?" just as I rolled down a rocky outcrop just after Honnister Pass. It was inevitable that I got a huge pinch flat, the rim slamming down with a jarring thud. Probably bad technique on my part, but most likely the Puncture Wizard. The second was failing to lift my rear wheel high/far enough as I crossed one of the numerous drainage ditches scything across the path. Pictured below is Sam on a section of really rare, rideable, fairly tame descent.
Sections such as this were really enjoyable
After we'd made it over Honnister, Scarth Gap and Black Sail passes safely there was a large section on the roads around Wast Water which would bring some relief to our aching shoulders and stretch out our legs. We set off and after a few minutes it became apparent that my rear wheel was not well. Some pretty awful cranking, scraping knocking sounds were coming from it. We stopped and on inspection, the rear hub moved around on the axle by quite a few millimeters. It seemed that the terrain had been too severe for a hub a couple of years old. Anyway, we had to carry on in order to make it to our accommodation before it got dark. We were only on the roads so it wasn't going to be taking any sever knocks. We also noticed the crank had a little bit of play in it too. Not good.

We made it to our hostel in Eskdale. After around 9 hours, we were ready for some food. Quick! To the pub! The pub stopped serving at 9pm, we made it in to order at 9:03pm and were told we could only order a pizza. RUBBISH! So faced with no other option, we had 3 pizzas between the two of us. Couldn't quite believe how strict they were on this policy. At least it was some sustenance. Finished these quickly and back to bed, ready to face day 2.
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