Mountain biking; so far I've fell into a canal, fell over, fell of my bike and generally just been well, crap at it.
After a year or so of road biking on my lovely Cannondale I decided thought it would be a good idea to branch out onto the hills with a spangly Specialized mtb, full suspension, disc breaks - the works. The only thing I didn't have enough of was skill, oh and a shocking lack of fitness.
[Heading towards Hope Cross from Winhill]
So after last ''summer'' we decided that it would be good to get out early in the year. Saturday morning, about 10am it was exactly 2.5 degrees in a car park about 3 miles from Hagg Farm (5 miles from Ladybower Reservoir). Our plan was a short hop over Bell Hag, a blast alongside Derwent Res, and then the long way round and over Winhill, via Thornhill, and finally a bit of fun down from Hope Cross.
Brilliant weather, absolutely clear skies and a think layer of frost on the shaded paths.
The day started well enough with Phil managing to blag a van from work, so no faff ... and it got better with hot vimto and bacon sarnies. We got to the car park in good time and set off (well, at least some of us headed in the right direction)..
The first 20 minutes was pretty much a carry - as none of us were fit enough to even get a third of the way up. After some deliberation at the top (and a lot of adjusting the bikes.. nothing to do with me gasping for air) we set off on the first descent, 2 miles (?) of wide, quite flat trail and fast enough when you can't feel you hands. The last 400 meters are really steep and bouldery (add lack of bottle to my lack of fitness and skills) but it ran, or wheelled, or whatever the term is.
[I forgot to add on the route card that the overall feeling was happy]
The blast from the Lower Derwent dam (*the* dam busters dam, no less) was a bit more hairy than I expected after nearly getting wiped out by an equally scared driver who hit some black ice, and generally being frozen made for a nice section . Did I mention the brilliant weather?
Any onto the hard bit, from Thornhill up Winhill, this was a grind, espically as we were being overtaken by guys on full suspension downhill bikes, and that we didn't really pack any food except for Pollys' cereal bars... I always enjoy being on Winhill, even when knackered, be it the agressive sheep trying to nick lucnh or the lovely view of Ladybower, less so of the cement factory in Hope, or the pig of a route that is Parkin Clough. Did I mention the brilliant weather?
Anyway I digress, after no little effort (and no stops..) we reached Hope Cross looking forward to a nice blast downhill. So what else is lacking in my armour as a potential top mtb'er? skill to be short. The downhill from Hope Cross was a boulder garden which was harsh - I got down, slowly, too slowly to use my bike as it should be (with some walking) but basically my skill / bottle let me down. Must do better. Did I mention the brilliant weather...
By the way, Chris Smith was out climbing about 5 miles from us, nice pictures and routes, shame about the smelly fleece!
Email me if you want the route card in MMO format