June

The Grizedale Gallop, aka A Day On The Railway

Seven of us set off from Gosforth Park travelling in John Rivers’ car (John, Chris Devenney and David Edgar) and Ian Mundy’s Tonka Toy (Ian, Paul Dodds, Paul Baister and Terry Kirkup) at around 8:10 am on Sunday 26th June 2016. We made pretty rapid progress considering the moving bulk of the Tonka much resembles that of a railway carriage which became something of a theme for the journey, with John sitting on our tail all the way. No holdups and little early morning traffic meant possibly our earliest ever arrival at a very chilly Moor Top car park, Grizedale where Francis Myers was waiting for us.

I can’t remember what time we started the ride but it was slightly delayed following our sneaky “uplift” plan where we left vehicles at top and bottom of that muckle hill to avoid overstressing ourselves at the finish. With the sun poking through occasionally it was a very pleasant start to what would be another memorable Midaircrisis outing. A short, gentle climb got us to our first downhill and a relatively smooth section to get us used to what was coming later as the rocks grew incrementally bigger before finally becoming mentally huge. I was extremely cautious down here, taking a wee while to get back in the groove again since the Whinlatter ride. Unfortunately Paul suffered a flat on the way down from China Plantation, the absence of Stan’s Fluid in his tyre preventing a quick fix. “It’s got loads in” proved to be a slight exaggeration! Luckily I was carrying a small bottle and that got the job done nicely, as well as offloading a bit of weight from the backpack I haven’t carried for a few years.

Our expected rapid descent of Park Plantation was halted half way down by a pair of punctures to Francis and Davy and numbers 2 & 3 of five during the ride, both being brought to a standstill at the same place, the sharp up-facing rock ledges causing havoc, but I suspect Ian, Chris, John and Paul to reveal much faster segment times on their Strava traces as they had been running up front at the time and missed the fun. While these two suffered a flat tyre, I almost suffered a flat face after parting company with the bike on a nice greasy rock slab, having decided to keep my sunglasses on after the clouds rolled in. Fortunately it was just lower right leg damage and I remounted quickly enough without a hint of a tear in my eye, but ouch!We turned south behind the Trail Centre and began the 3 ½ mile, 600 foot climb up to Park Crags via bits of the North Face Trail.

Time for a bit of a fireroad slog after that to get us over to a path I’m very familiar with, both in daylight and after midnight, having raced some of it a few times in the past. This carried us up Wizard of Oz style “weigh a pie” to that super viewpoint on the north east edge of Coniston Water with the lake stretched out below us alongside the trail. We stopped for a group selfie at the tipping point but didn’t linger too long as the wind was biting up there. Chris led off to start the manic descent on the gravel dual track at the moor edge and it was great fun trying to keep up with him as far as the farmhouse, most of us getting perilously close to flying off the side at times as our tyres scrabbled for grip – good thing it was dry up there, although of course we’d have moderated our speed had it been wet, maybe.

Chris took the lead again but the others seemed slow to get away so I followed him. We were well ahead of the pack and suspected that there had been a happening, and sure enough when the others caught up it emerged that Francis had taken a liking to the grass, face-first as he tried to switch between ruts! He emerged relatively unscathed but the same could not be said for his front brake. The outer end of the reservoir lid had been bashed loose and although the seal had remained in place the lid was anything but where it should have been. Remarkably the feel and seal were still there and remained so throughout the ride, although he did become slightly cautious and a wee bit apprehensive on the faster descents after that!

Of course this was potentially the worst place to suffer that kind of mentally agitating problem with the Boulder Run down to High Nibthwaite our next challenge. I’ve got loads of memories of this one on a variety of bikes going back a long way but most with plenty front and rear travel. I suppose you have to admire any hardtail riders who can blast down this rockfest but I don’t, they really should wise up and save a few vertebrae. Chris did what I expected him to do and vanished out front chased by, I think, Davy, Paul D, and John while I had the others keeping me company. I just about managed to keep John in view within about 50 metres as I wrestled with this now very unfamiliar terrain due to lack of Big Rides but managed to keep it rolling while scaring myself silly. Fantastic feeling as we regrouped on the smooth intermediate section, nobody down and the crew bathed in pleasure! Sounds rude, maybe it was.

With Francis definitely preferring survival over heroism I dropped to the back and we both took it fairly steady down to the hamlet, pausing at the gate and deciding now was a good time to eat. Paul led us along the tarmac for a few miles and we parked up in Dodgson Wood for our Nibthwaite Nibble in pleasant sunshine. Ten minutes later it was mountain goat time for half of us while the other half managed to stay largely mounted as we struggled against the severe gradient leading us back up to high ground climbing 650 feet in one mile, crossing the Parkamoor trail we’d followed earlier to head east.

The long descent into Satterthwaite was fantastic but interrupted slightly by a second flatty for Francis. Luckily I was still running behind him as I had the only remaining inner tube, and although it was a real one (26”) it went into his 27.5” rear tyre semi-inflated, no problem at all. Mind you it was a decent quality Spesh tube, maybe thinner makes wouldn’t have held up for the remainder of the ride like this one did. I also managed to lose not only the weight of the tube but also 2 CO2 cartridges, insisting that they now belonged to Francis. When we got underway again and made our way down to the roadside we discovered Paul D sitting under a tree repairing a gash in one of his own tyres, so once again we’d suffered a double deflation at roughly the same place – spooky!

The light mizzle we’d ridden into began turning to Lakeland rain here. Everyone but me toughed it out for the final up and down test but being old and needing special care I resorted to pulling on a waterproof jacket, and very glad I did as it was indeed proper rain from this point on. I was just about shot after climbing Breasty Haw, our fourth significant ascent, but the pleasure came flooding back on the way down t’other side. Paul B hadn’t planned to continue, preferring to avoid the final hike up but relented and joined at the back after we’d watched the others depart behind Chris. Down at the foot of Bleaberry Hill Paul reckoned we had missed a left turn that would have avoided some heartache on the final climb so it was more tarmac for a while after John had taken his second tumble of the day resulting in a nice little stripe on his left calf (or was that his earlier mishap?).

So to the final 450 feet of climbing over the next mile and a half up to Grizedale Tarn with the prospect of another brilliant downhill finish keeping the smiles glowing. The light but steady rain didn’t slow us at all as we bombed it down to Esthwaite Hall like a bunch of madmen, especially over the last stretch, even Francis tending to ignore the potential disaster under his right hand. Fabulous trail, fabulous ride.

All Aboard!

We got pretty wet waiting for the car shuttling service having left Ian’s battle waggon at this little lay-bye, thanks to some brilliant planning by the RL Paul B which saved us that monumental road climb at the end of a decent day’s graft. Only one tubeless flat which most likely would not have been noticed had “someone” done a little bike maintenance, while the other four as expected were provided by tubed tyres. The only mechanical remains a mystery as that brilliant Shimano XT brake kept working as if by magic. And only four falls all day, none of them crippling, thank goodness. A super ride, one I’ll treasure with many others and remember for a long time. Thanks to Mr B for devising another cracking overall route, Chris for his infinite patience with me on the climbs yet again, and all the lads for their super company. Pure enjoyment.

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Next Sunday Ride (plus other odd days) - See our Facebook page.

Next Night Ride: Thursday as usual.

Thursday nighters are 10-25 milers, 7:00pm start at ASDA East car park, Benton, 3-3.5 hours and generally OK for fit new riders but you need decent lights you can see with, NOT CANDLES. You MUST wear a cycle helmet.

Sundays are generally much longer, 8:00am to 10:00am starts from ride venue ending around teatime, and much harder rides.

Other ad-hoc rides are always being organised, see our Facebook page. Gloves, waterproof coat, snack and drink recommended. Carry basic tools.

The Best Bike in the World arrives at ASDA!

Well, not actually in the store, but outside in the car park on Thursday night, and it was John Rivers who turned up with it, lucky s**! And as if to prove it's pedigree it resisted all of Matt Holmes' attempts to wreck it on a sharp-edged, very high kerb!

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The bigger the group, the louder the laughs!

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