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!

 

Why do you need a MTB guide?

Yes I have been on a British Cycling mountain leader course. Yes I am planning on leading and am “bound to say this” but just listen for a moment…

Coniston Water
Not the Peak District – I haven’t been yet to take a photo.

Have you ever wanted to ride somewhere new and I don’t mean a trail centre?  Of course you have. Did you find somewhere and go ride it? What did you do?

You have a bunch of ways you can go about this and its not that hard really, is it?

So you saw some cool pictures on Instagram of something called Jacob’s Ladder. Where’s that? And the Google search begins. Peak District! That 3 hours away! Looks worth it though…

Next you search for cycling routes, the results that the world wide web presents you with are a little vague and everyone has different opinions on where you should ride – how am I going to decide?  I can’t drive 3 hours and miss out “the best trail in the Peaks”!

You remember those old MBR routes you cut out and kept for such an eventuality. This is more like it! But still they don’t seem to cover some of the bits you’ve heard about. Continue reading “Why do you need a MTB guide?”

Y Slab at Coed Y Brenin

Y Slab at Coed Y Brenin
I had a brief visit to Coed Y Brenin while in North Wales recently and Tom Hutton of MTB Guiding accompanied me to the top of the Tarw Du trail to show me the new Y Slab section.

It was a really cold day; my Strava record says it was a -2 Celsius average temperature and my toes were numb for about an hour after riding.

 

in-the-car-on-the-gopro
Does my thumb look big in this?
While I have been to Coed Y Brenin a few times I had never ridden the Tarw Du, so this and a newly opened trail section was a double treat.
The Tarw Du is a Black / Severe grade trail and certainly has some obstacles that require commitment but ultimately I think its more a “Red +” as I didn’t find this any where near as daunting as say Dai Hard or 5o Shades of Black at BikePark Wales.
gopr4073-0001
One of the “slabs” on the Y Slab section
Its well worth a trip and Tom was great company as he knows the centre and the trails really well. His business runs guided days and full weekends in Snowdonia as well as the Lake District, Scotland and other parts of the UK.
DCIM100GOPRO
Tom Hutton (LEFT) drinking another coffee!
Tom is probably best-known as a guidebook writer and the man behind MBR magazine’s pull-out route guides.  I have been on a few trips with MTB Guiding and highly recommend Tom and Steph as excellent guides and superb hosts check them out on Facebook and the web in the links below:

Plan B

Bike Packing
Luckily my NS Bikes Surge has a Bear Warning System

B is for BikePacking

We had booked the “Introduction to Bikepacking” trip with MTB Guiding a few months ago and three of us from the relatively flatlands of Wiltshire were really excited to be going on our first over night bike ride.

Meeting Tom Hutton at the Elan Valley Visitor Center at 10am on Saturday we discussed the plan. Along with the ins and outs of a guided ride we had the added complications that camping would bring to the ride and the extra gear and precautions we would need to take.

When bike packing in the mountains you have to carry all your usual gear that you would take on a long bike ride as well as a long list of other items to support an overnight stay.

Continue reading “Plan B”

The video of that weekend in the Lakes

You may be sick of hearing about it, but when you live a normal life doing a job 9-5 and working “for the man” as they say, moments occasionally happen to transport you from the mundane and they are moments to cherish and remember (are they basically the same thing?).

So when you spend 3 days in the Lake District with amazing weather, stunning views and fantastic riding, its natural you want to relive those events.

So read the blog if you want to, or watch this for 5 mins.