October in The Lakes, you expect it to be blustery, cool and decidedly damp. But no! Thanks to global warming 7 of us set off up to The Lakes in shorts and tees with the sun high in the sky. The plan was simple; head up to the farm Friday morning to arrive early evening time, then head out out for a couple of hours night ride before returning to drink beer and eat. We would the repeat this on Saturday but without the driving and with more riding. Finally, Sunday would be like Friday but in reverse and in day light.
The joys of the M6 meant we arrived a bit later than we'd have liked, but with the sun still out we arrived at the farm cottage above Hawkshead and poured bikes and gear from the cars. Mysteriously, whilst in transport, Chris Shep's brake, err, broke, so we left him fiddling and headed out into the fading light. Paul (or 'SatNav' as he became known during the wekeend) had planned a nice out and back loop along tracks he knew, taking in some lovely rocky trails with short sharp climbs and fun fast descents. We only had one puncture, Mark, in the same place he did it last year. His first spare was punctured too, but no one minded the wait whilst it was warm and dry in a perfect late summer night. Arriving back at the farm we found Chris looking happy with himself, having fixed his brake and opened the cider. With Ade's spag bol inhaled (very nice it was too!) and a few beers in us it was time to retire.
For Saturday SatNav had planned a short "35 miles" route, taking in the nice singletrack bits of Grizedale and a whole heap of tracks he'd ridden before or stolen from MBR. We popped down into town to book a table in the pub and then rode up the first climb of the day. A small climb, apparently, but one requiring a granny ring and a lot of oxygen. This boded well then... Into the first section of The North Face trail and SatNav found out the hard way that wet boardwalk (from dew, not rain, amazingly) is slippery as he went down and 6 people tried to stop on same said wet boardwalk behind him. With only pride dented we rode on along some fantastic stretches of trail down to the visitors center. Here we broke off the trail center track and walk (well, I walked) up a dry stream bed classed as a byway. A fun downhill section soon followed and via a few more climbs and decents we headed on round to the shores of a lake for a spot of lunch (Banana Malt Loaf all round I think).
After lunch we had a few "Challenge" sections (you can guess!) and even found some mud, just for good measure. Every ride should have some mud in it, if only to annoy Chas. With a couple of minor wrong terms behind us, we set off up Breasty Haw, a route suggested by MBR. Now, I'm all for steep rocky rails but this was silly. Even if we'd ben coming down I'm not sure I'd have made it such was the gradient and slipperiness. Still, I'd love to go back and have a good go 🙂 Onward (ever onward) and upward with some rewarding climbs and fun sections of trail, we explored the far reached of a steep muddy field, only to discover that SatNav had sent us the wrong way. This picture sums the moment up nicely .
Never mind though, back on track and up another dry riverbed pretending to be a byway we popped out on top of Grizedale Moor which can't be far from home, surely. Truth be told it isn't that far, but the trouble is there are lots of trail and many in parallel and, well, satellite navigation in a forest is, well... Once we'd convinced SatNav that a map might be a plan, Chris and Chas took a bearing, worked it out and we zoomed on down back to the farm. What is a ride with 7 blokes without a little navigational fun? Impossible, thats what. But its all good and even Ade and I (by now, flagging a little) didn't mind.
Once we'd all bathed (one bath, no shower, 7 blokes...) we did our bit for helping rural economies by enjoying the food and drink in a local hostelry.