A weekend in the Yorkshire Dales

I had planned on a 2 month fitness improvement plan. I had planned on getting out a lot more. But the weekend of riding in the Yorkshire Dales arrived just ahead of my fitness.

Its easy to blame the long damp, muddy winter – so I will.

I struggled. Enjoyed myself but struggled for the first time in a while, maybe working at home and having too many biscuits with each cup of tea was taking its toll, or I’d simply been a fair weather biker!

Anyway – it was a cracking weekend…  Thanks to Tom @ MTB Guiding for organising and for Stu @ Dales Bike Centre for guiding Saturday and Sunday.

I made a detour to one of my sort of bucket list locations before meeting the gang on Friday to Malham Cove. It had featured on the ITV programme about Great British walks and I still need to go back for a “walk”.

We met in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Tom and Steph took us on a trip around Pen-y-Ghent, the smallest of the dales 3 peaks. I’m not sure what it means but its sounds Welsh and I think could mean either “head of winds” or  “hill on the border” – who knows.  It was a great circular route completely circumnavigating the peak and set us up for the weekend.

It rained a little, but mostly we had to navigate wet spongy ground in between grassy slopes. Stunning scenery. Why have I never been to the Dales before?

Friday and Saturday nights we stayed at the Dales Bike Centre in Fremington.  If you’ve done one of the Ard Rock Enduro’s you’ll be familiar with the location and the terrain.

We were in for a big weekend.

Saturday it rained. And then it rained some more. And a little bit more on top. The weather was miserable, but the riding was immense.  Yes we slipped around all over the place, yes the rocks were dangerous, yes we got cold and yes I took a BIG tumble which no one photographed (cameras and phones stayed out of the rain mostly).

But we had a great time!

Sunday the weather was more cooperative and the trails on the opposite side of the valley were also drier. We gained some height very quickly and continued to do so, which meant we could spend most the afternoon coming down hill.

We did have a few hike a bike spots and but were also treated some of the best trails of the day, some sweet single track and some of us even got down to  just our t shirts as the sun tried to join us.

3 biggish rides mean the body and bike took a battering over the 3 days.

The numbers:
Distance ridden – circa 90km
Height gained – circa 2500m
Tea drunk – 20 cups
Pints of Guinness – maybe 10
Food eaten – loads!
Cake devoured – not as much as I expected…

I need to get back to the Dales, oh wait I’m booked on to the Ard Rock Marathon in August!  Better start that training now!

 

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A Sort of Newsletter

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I thought I’d put a kind of update blog post out ahead of the weekend, covering a few different subjects of what I’m upto…

Bikes

It certainly has been a long wet Winter and I have to admit I’ve done far less riding than I should have.  I have wimped out on a few bike park visits (they aren’t as much fun in the driving rain or mud) and my local trails have become unrideable at times. So I’ve done more miles on my cyclocross bikes than I thought I would. Keeping the legs spinning but away from the  mud as much as possible.

My DJ has not seen the light of day for about 6 months!  I had so many plans to visit so many pump tracks but it just didn’t happen. This weekend I must – especially if I am to justify buying new forks for it!

My full suspension bike has been kept safe and clean (see the wimping out above) and my trusty hardtail has bore the brunt of the winter mud and elements.

Come on spring / summer I need you now more than ever!

Travel

I am a little bit ashamed of my lack of adventure the last few months. Putting the bike in the car to drive for a few hours only to get just as muddy and cold and wet as I can from home hasn’t been very appealing. The lack of a roof rack on my company car has probably been a slight barrier to this too as it is certainly better to stick a muddy bike on the roof rather than in the car that I do not technically own. New car coming next week and I will be getting a rack for it (and the Summer is coming!) so things should change in that department.

I have a trip planned next week (before I get a rack unfortunately) but I am so looking forward to it. Expect photos and videos on my return of a weekend riding with Tom Hutton MTB Guiding and the Dales Bike Centre.

Talking of Guiding

Talking of guiding, I finally put my British Cycling Leadership Award into action and set up a “business venture” doing some local rides. MTB Guide Wiltshire has so far run 3 rides (Jan, Feb and March) and I’ve brought a few riders out from hibernation, had a couple travel more than an hour to ride with me from Hampshire, and helped a few new comers to the sport get an introduction.

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Including a booking on my 4th ride this coming weekend, I have now had 4 return customers.  The photo for this blog post was taken last Sunday when a hardy group of 6 came out for a tough mudder of a ride, 2 were returning customers, and 3 traveled by car for more than an hour to ride with me!

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Showing some locals that there’s plenty of good riding in our little corner of Wiltshire and earning a bit of cash to keep the bikes maintained is very fulfilling. I’m making new contacts and friends, while networking and being “paid” to ride my bike – that’s the dream, the Holy Grail isn’t it?

My first ride outside of Wiltshire comes up in May and so far around 20 people are taking an interest in being guided around the amazing landscape near Blaenavon and Big Pit.

Tickets are on sale for the Ponds, The Pit and The Punchbowl now, and until 1st May they are reduced from £20 to £15 per person.

You can follow my guiding activities on Facebook or Instagram.

And finally…

No, that’s just about it..  Oh and if you’ve a story to share or subject to rant about please get in touch, I am very happy and eager to let some other voices be heard on my little blog…

Tim(FromWales)

 

What’s in a mountain bikers car?

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Whats in your car?

MBR Magazine stole my thunder this week with an article entitled Seven things mountain bikers always have in their car. I had a similar article prepared, I have thought about not posting it but then my list is different to their’s so I thought I would anyway.

So here goes with the TimFromWales guide to a mountain bikers car contents – well mine anyway… Continue reading “What’s in a mountain bikers car?”

3, that’s the magic number

Now where did I leave that camera?
Now where did I leave that camera?

My mini guiding business had its second outing today and for the second time I had 3 riders. Considering the time of the year, weather, mud etc and the fact that my little corner of Wiltshire is not exactly a MTB mecca, I am pleased and I think it bodes well for the brighter and drier months ahead.

We're on a byway to Hell
We’re on a byway to Hell

Actually, the smaller groups get me used to doing things right without an over-sized group to manage. Though I have led much larger groups before for MB Swindon, there is something a little more stressful about doing it when taking someone’s money. So extra care is being taken to get it right.

I’m having to give some thought to a refund policy due to some cancellations and I’m even thinking about a loyalty scheme!

This way and that way
This way and that way

We were treated to ‘no rain’ today and relatively mild conditions, which meant I set off in a tee shirt! It got cold once we stopped for a tea/cake break in Avebury hence the jacket in the pictures.

We've come a long long way together
We’ve come a long long way together

About 25km and 300m of elevation was just right for this beginners ride and it was great to see a rider returning for his second ride with me and pushing himself (and his bike at times) a little further on this outing.

Its behind you!
Its behind you!

I should remember to take more photos as most of these were taken around the Cherhill Monument and there were plenty of other places that would have made for some interesting shots.

As the weather gets better, I plan on putting some longer rides on in Wiltshire and I have some plans to to host a ride or two in Wales soon too.

Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire
Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire

Its feel great getting people motivated and cycling on the hills and I look forward to doing much more of this as the year goes on….

So now, not De La Soul as the title suggests, cos i couldn’t find a decent video, but Beastie Boys – 3 MCs and 1 DJ

“Inside” by Jamie Flanagan

Reeves & Swayze In 'Point Break'
“its that place where your lose yourself and find yourself”

I’ve asked a few friends and followers to submit some content as “guest” blogs and Jamie Flanagan is the first up.  I’ve met Jamie a few times on uplifts at Bike Park Wales, we share a love of 90s rock that many wont even have heard of and he likes to take pictures of car parks.

However, he is a downhill shredder, top bloke and I should ride more often with him.  Anyway, this is his blog not mine today so have a read below.  Over to you buddy…

This article has been written before and I’d think there are close parallels in surfing and climbing amongst others but they are what they are. So I’d like to talk to you about something that drives a lot of my riding – that feeling of being ‘inside’.

I was first there many years ago on a trail just up above Peaslake called Silent Treatment on my first real mountain bike with the guy who started MTB for me. I was back in the same place only a couple of years ago riding abroad down a never ending loam filled natural corkscrew rollercoaster on a single pivot sledge hammer of a bike. Lastly there is a wood in Shropshire that we rode in spring of last year that I will always remember.

In all the hours of over twenty years of riding, these are the stand out memories. The bikes come and go as do those with whom I ride, but there were a few common feelings to all of those runs above. Firstly there is silence – no noise from the outside world not even those of tires in dirt. Secondly, I don’t feel a thing whilst in this place – I’m not breathing hard, no aches or pain even at the end of a hard-charging day. Lastly, it all comes together as the bike and I seem to blend together with the track.

There are also circumstances that seem to bring on the feeling – sunshine helps for sure, companions can be key and conditions for some speed stand out for me. You don’t need a £7K bike or a foreign holiday however. Lastly, the knowledge of that run being inside only comes later after the day is done, sometimes long after.

I’ve no idea when I will be back here, but the possibility keeps me fascinated so I’ll keep trying to get back ‘in’. Maybe inside is a gift you have to earn but won’t necessarily receive. It can’t be bought, trained for, planned, booked or even anticipated. As a result, inside slips through my fingers like smoke.

This is me and you may very well be entirely different, but I’d be delighted if some of you know what I am trying to say. To those of you that do, I need add nothing. To those that don’t I am sorry to admit I can’t help either as I know no definite recipe. In many respects, none of the above really matters as long as you’re having fun. Each to their own, but for myself I’m fascinated and can’t stop chasing inside down thin lines of dirt in the woods.

https://www.instagram.com/thatwilddirtyflanimal/