Sunday, February 22, 2015

Early bird catches the worm....

Despite Robin's usual protestations regarding him rising from his chariot at an ungodly hour, he and I set off early on Saturday for the lakes, as we were not staying, instead just a down-and-up cross border raid, cherry picking some of Cumbria's finest trails.

Weather reports had us expecting intermittent rain, sleet and even the chance of lightning. How wrong they were - wall to wall sunshine and hardly a breath of wind until the last roll back to the car in Glenridding was the order of the day. Weather and scenery like this gives a real sense of privelege.

After the initial confusion of where we would actually turn our pedals that day, we set off through Glenridding and Patterdale to Hartsop, and the short climb up to Hayeswater reservoir. A wee bit of hike a bike up to the snowline on The Knott, and then it was back on the bikes for the cheeky footpath along to Satura crag. The views across to the Helvellyn massif were astounding, we had thought about climbing the big hill, but the amount of snow and ice visible across the valley vindicated our decision.

What a fantastic piece of trail, at one point Robin said that 'this is real mountain biking' and rather than wind him up as he would usually expect, I fully agreed. Once off of Satura, the trail along to Angle tarn was superb, a lovely flowing ribbon of singletrack with just enough rocky sections to keep you on your toes, and Angle tarn itself is a glorious spot. 

The descent which followed topped the whole wee loop off, down past Boredale Hause and finishing on a cracking, techy blast back down to the start of the Ullswater lakeside bridleway. Robin and I both agreed that the previous miles were amongst the best we had ever ridden in the Lake District, a mighty accolade.

After a sandwich and some cake, our own stuff as the seasonal cafe was still closed, we headed off along the ullswater bridleway as a simple out and back, as we've now done this a few times and always enjoy it's techy challenges. It's a busy bit of trail, as it's very popular with walkers, but there's room for everyone, even the grumpy ones.

A brilliant days riding, and one that will be repeated in the future I'm sure. Bravo.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cold = good.....

Most people don't really like the cold, and the mere mention of winter sets folk into a downward spiral. I think us amounting bikers - and probably most other folks that enjoy the outdoors - are a wee bit different. I enjoy all the seasons, each one has its pros and cons, but all of them have far more of the plus points.

Take the last few weeks for instance. It's been pretty uninspiring up until around mid January, bit of wet, lots of wind and dark, dark, dark. Then, all of a sudden a cold snap, and the place changes beyond all recognition, ignoring the BBC and their ridiculous reporting of the weather, as if we're into some sort of modern day ice age, this little cold front from the North has been very welcome.

Last week, I had 3 night rides on fairlie moor. In the depths of our hottest summers, I don't manage 3 night rides on fairlie moor... But when all of a sudden, trails that have been wet, marshy and generally quite slow become like lightning quick, dry and uber grippy, you better bet I'll be out more than usual. Indeed, I was gutted when I ventured up into the moor last week and found that the thaw was well and truly on. Until 2016.......

I've had a few really nice local-ish rides recently, including a really good day with some mates from the Glasgow club up in the Kilpatricks above Glasgow, that's an area I've been meaning to ride for a few years, but sort of taken for granted. I'll definitely be back there, some really nice, snaking singletrack and so close to home too.

Some really great days up on fairlie moor too, as ever. I used to think ayrshire was pretty shit for MTB, but it's only in the last few years that I've appreciated what we have here, not just in the shire, but within a very short drive or train journey, lots of folks down south would love the sheer volume of options we have.

And, after all that, we come to the point. Spring. Is. Nearly. Here. I spotted a huge patch of snowdrops and a few crocuses last week at St quivox kirk, that made me so happy, it really did. It's not really the seasons that I love per se, it's the transitions from each to the next, the promise of what is to come next, so to speak. But, the best part of this time of year, it's planning. I love to sit with maps and plan where I'm going to go in the year ahead, and this year is no different. A few Enduro races, lots of lakes and cairngorm weekends, a week in Spain with good friends and so, so much more, not to mention the first ever enduro here in ayrshire.

Roll on 2015 and all you bring for us, I'm in.