May Mountain Biking

May 9, 2012

I know that I’ve been fairly quiet on here since getting back from South America, but fear not, I’ve just been laying low for a while as I’ve started work down South. I worked for 6 months in London before eyeing up the opportunity to spend the summer working beside the seaside in Hove and moved to be a 5 minute walk from the South Coast.

The downside of this became clear this bank holiday as I rented a van and headed up for a long weekend in the Lake District. It’s absolutely miles away from the places that I love, that used to be relatively close when I lived in Manchester and Edinburgh.

Despite one of those days at work where you think you’ll never get away I managed to leave Brighton around 6, before heading up to Redhill picking up Andy and Eric before beginning the long drive up North. We eventually managed to make it to the campsite near Coniston around 1:30 where we met up with the others and quickly set up camp for the night under the full moon. The first night was freezing cold but in the morning we slowly made our way after a bit of a lie in to Grizedale where we would base oursleves for the next two days. We met up with a few more people here before we hit the trails.

I’d bought my cyclocross bike with me and thought I’d give it a run for its money on the trails. We decided on the North Face Trail which definitely did exactly that. The very rocky trail was a nice and challenging 16km loop with lots of single track.

I kept up with the rest on their mountain bikes despite the lack of low gears and suspension. At one point getting overtaken by some pros shouting out: “You’re a mad man with that on here!”. Let’s just say that I proved the shop wrong that you needed one of their premium bikes to do the trail. After all, it was Andy that had the comedy fall of the day, not me. Suspension is for chumps was the message of the day…

Out on the trails. Photo: Ash Gilchrist

To finish the day off we did a quick lap of the forest trails before heading back and enjoying some well earned food in the local pub that evening. Wearing all of my clothes to bed that evening it was a slightly warmer evening before heading back to Grizedale the next day. This time we were a slightly smaller group so decided to do some harder runs so I bit the bullet and hired a mountain bike for the day which would turn out to be a good investment.

Getting to grips with the MTB, Photo: Ash Gilchrist

Doing a trail off the map we immediately hit some rocky, muddy and steep descents that would have been impossible on my bike, I just had to be careful with the disc brakes to not go over the handlebars! We found some great fast and technical sections despite getting a bit lost but that was the fun of it all.

To finish off we headed to the black run which was amazing fun, being fluid and quick with a number of jumps to go over which we ran a number of times each. I’ve found the following video of the run which shows a taste of what it’s like. But let me tell you it’s a lot steeper in real life!

Joe on the black run

Happy with the day we headed back to the bottom to drop the bikes off just before they shut and we headed back to the campsite. Some of the group had gone climbing this day and we waited for them before heading into town for some much needed food. Unfortunately we were just a bit too late with all of the pub ceasing to serve food after 9 so we had to return to the campsite to cook up our own but we got fed in the end.

The next and final day we were keen get on the road not too late so we headed for a walk around Great Langdale where we climbed to a reservior up on one of the hills. It was a great little climb and provide great views across the Lakes.

Andy and Eric climbing to the top

Andy and Eric climbing to the top

After reaching the reservoir halfway up the three of us in the van decided to head back down and start the journey back before the rest carried on to the top. Let’s just say it was hard to separate us after three fun days together:

Parting ways at the top

Let’s just say I could have done without the 07:17 to London Bridge the next day!