Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mostly Mountain Biking

The shin splints linger on (but we won't dwell on that topic) and so the mountain bike has been getting a bit of a hammering in the last few weeks.

Hilary and I had an absolutely splendid ride north of Chesterfield about 3 weekends ago.  It was the Linacre North circuit in the White Peak Mountain Biking guide by Vertebrate Graphics.  I don't have any photos sadly but the route comprises a open and wooded trails with some fine singletrack.  If you are into mountain biking (and what right minded person isn't?), then I can highly recommend this little treasure of a route.  It wasn't without some personal cost however.  I broke another spoke and got a slow puncture but close enough to the end that I could get away with stopping and pumping up the tyre every mile or so.  I also got into conversation with a woman about her full suspension bike and she let me try it out.  Apart from the frame being too small, I stepped through a door into another world of fun but more of that later.  (15.5 miles and 2300')

Two weekends ago we took the campervan up to the NY Moors and did a route out from Goathland, over Lilla Howe, round the back of Fylingdales, down to Levisham for a brew at the eponymous station on the NY Moors Railway (and in time to see the Foxcote Manor pull in) before heading up over Howl Moor to cross the Lyke Wake Walk at Simon Howe and then a fast descent back down into Goathland.

Cross on Lilla Howe - visited many times on Lyke Walk Walk crossings

Fylingdales early warning station

 This is another superb route (The Goathland Circuit in the N Y Moors Mountain Biking guide also published by Vertebrate) and a real mix of wide trails, single track and some exciting downhill with the added frisson of the obligatory run-in with the Fylingdales security police.  The bridleway passes inside the outer perimeter fence and they really aren't keen on this.  The first time, about 5 years ago, I got stopped and encouraged to leave by the nearest gate! 

Another puncture

Malo Cross

The Foxcote Manor pulling into Levisham Station

 Once again there was a minor bike failure, with the new inner tube developing a small hole on the inside seam.  I think I may have been jinxed by a woman we met earlier in the day who was repairing a puncture and who had had 4 others the previous weekend.  That feels like bad juju to me.

We stopped for a brew and cake at Levisham Station and did some mild train spotting before heading north up Newtondale, through the forest, pausing to harvest sloes destined to become an intoxicating liquor in Hilary's kitchen (aka gin palace).  The singletrack to Simon Howe (crossed by the Lyke Wake Walk) and on to Two Howes Rigg is superb and the ride culminated with a mad descent over grass back down intio Goathland.  23 miles (of which 20 was off road) and 2,300'.

Finally, for a birthday treat I decided to hire a full sus bike from Eighteen Bikes in Hope last week and took it for a 25 mile,  4000' test ride round the edge of the Hope Valley, going over Shatton Moor and then down through the cement works, up Pin Dale, then Dirtlow to round the back of Mam Tor and on to Hollins Cross, down into Edale for a brew and then back up over Win Hill.  I came off Shatton down the wrong track and ended up in Abney and off the map, forcing a bit of an extended ride to get to Bradwell and back on route and I was starting to think I was never going to get anywhere where I could put the bike through its paces.  However, once I got up Pin Dale, things started to look up and I plugged the iPod into my head and started singing away to Lindisfarne and Hayseed Dixie like a demented thing, as I flew down steep rocky singletrack into Edale that I had hitherto shown several degrees of circumspection towards.  It was a day of fun and mud in equal measure and turned out to be rather expensive.  I bought the bike and am collecting it on Thursday!

Shatton Moor

The track off Mam Tor, looking towards Hollins Cross

Hope Cross, looking up Edale