Tuesday, 29 April 2008



"I'd go anywhere Baby,
I don't care
I'm not scared
I don't care
Baby, I'm not scared " *

Not been out riding for a while. I've been working away up in the northeast. Way ay.I missed a few weeks either side of the week away so i was keen to get out and stretch the legs. And what a stretch.ONLY 20 miles.Hmm . I've heard that before.
There was a good turnout of riders.Tim turned up with Dominic ,Stu picked me and Andy up in the van ,cheers Stu,Chris followed Gareth,Andy Rudd was there and soon after Steve and Phil turned up.So that's 10 of us. Ace.
We met in Castleton under the shadow of the great pyramids at el Gizeh.Its a fairly stiff warm up from here up Earthquake Rd around the back side of MamTor.It seemed like there was a bit of a chill first thing , so I 'd put on my over -tights and a thin outer jacket. Within a few minutes i was just too hot. We'd got quite a bit more climbing to do up Rushup Edge to the Hanging gardens of Babylon and the sun,for a change , was belting down ,so i stripped off the outers expecting to have to put them on again in a minute. I ended up carrying them all the way . The weather was superb all day.Shirt an shorts.
There's a short unrideable push up the first bit of Rushup but it soon opens up to a nice bit of narrow bridleway.All do-able.In the dry,anyway.On the top of the moors it flattens out with sprctacular views all round ,particularly of the magnificent statue of Zeus at Olympia. Quite fitting in an olympic year,but no time to stop and stare as all along the top of the moorland are boggy holes of varying degrees of difficulty. It's usually just a wheelie pop and over type thing ,but you always get the odd one that's just big enough to swallow your whole back wheel. Once the moorland tips down a bit it's not too bad ,and with a bit of speed it's a right laugh.
We all re-group at the gate for the first proper downhill of the day.Classic Peaks.A limestone trench winding its way down ,not too steep with some nice drop offs here and there.Good and fast.Through a gate and to the right the bridleway is a tad better surfaced. Equals more speed. I was having a bit of trouble with my SPds.Cleats a bit tight i think . Just what you need as suddenly the manicured track deteriorates and there's a foot drop coming up fast.Yay mountain biking.


It's a good fast descent down into Roych Clough.Fast and steep towards the end with some good and tricky hoppy bits.I'm on the Fisher again today .It's working well,up to now.
The view westward ( gazes ,aaah) out of the Clough is a bit hazy but in the far distance (squints ) we can just make out the ruins of the temple of Artemis.The 60' high temple took 120 yrs to complete in Parian marble by Laing O'Rourke.It was destroyed by the Goths in AD 262.Those Goths ,eh .What with their flesh tunnels and such.

We have a minute in the clough before the stiff climb out.It's a toughie.The first bit is what'll get you.It's quite steep but with the Fisher in it's top secret ( dont say owt ),2WD mode, it's a cinch . haha.It doesnt so much level out as become much more do-able.It is a long slog though.A few of the lads had done it the last time in the wet and it was a different story altogether.

We've a good few miles of peaks classic trails in front of us now.A lung busting up followed by a fast down.And again.And again.Flapjack time. I'm bonking.I couldve fried a slice of the brake discs.Note to self for next time.

It's all relative though. There's lung busting ,and then there's LUNG BUSTING.

Jacobs ladder. I've read that this is do-able. Come on ! .Not even with the Fisher in top secret 2WD mode. I dunno .With some local knowledge and legs of steel ,maybe,but some of the step-ups near the top just look too big.So we all dabbed.For about half a mile ! It's a nice push to the top.When you get there that is. There's a few false summits just to fool you.

We passed a resting scout troop trying to start a fire by rubbing two girl guides together.If only they'd taken the time to look over the drystone wall behind them to the east ,the far east ,they would have just been able to see the Mausoleum. You know ?At Halicarnassus.



We're on top of the world now.It's clear skies all round and nice and warm.Prickly after the climb.The view off the top is well worth the effort ,and it's some downhill too.Steep and techy at the top ,opening out ,and levelling off with water bars to grab you.A classic . The last rocky bit down to the ford nearly caught me out as i took a little rabbit run to the side of the trail only for it to disappear up the embankment.Could've been tasty.OK ,bring on the caff.

It's a fast easy bridleway and road section to Edale Cafe but with lots of walkers out in the sun I'm taking it easy . I get into a bit of a trench to the right off the trail proper and quickly realise it's not as easy as it first looks. I look up picking my line and Chris is on the deck.He must've dropped 10p or something ,and I think Andy was helping him look for it.Fatigue brought on by lack of sausage barms.It's the only explanation.

Edale cafe had had a much needed facelift when we got there and was decidedly more upmarket than previously.Luckily they still had my favourite trail snack .Packed with B-vitamins and high in carbs. You just cant beat a bit of pancetta wrapped foie gras with black truffles.In a barm cake.
Sated ,we sat.

We must have 'rested ' for a good hour or so in the high sun.This is real mountain biking.

We finally dragged ourselves up and back on the bikes. It's a really really good idea to fill your pie-hole halfway round a peak district ride.Is n't it?We still have a fair bit to do.Up up up.As we climbed up the hill ,leaving the hedonistic debauchery of Edale behind us a local postie wound down the hill in a 'Pat ' van. Imagine our delight as it was none other than the lovely 'Pat'-sy kensit.Complete with lederhosen and cute little pigtails from before she went ,well , not as cute.Fantasy highland.

We turned off the road and onto a narrow path ,opening up for the climb up to Hollins Cross.Another good slog up.I'm tasting the foie gras again. Mostly do- able,but more eroded than the last time just catching us out near the top. Ah well.

From the top we can see the van. There's a minor debate about whether we should cut it short and head straight down .It'd be rude.There's more to come.Up up up.The ancient paving slabs provide a welcome change offering plenty of grip up to this side of Mam Tor.Its humbling to think of how many feet have trodden this trail in olden times,climbing to worship the sun god ,Helios at the Collossus of Rhodes.This dominated the landscape and could be seen from as far away as constantinople ( on a good day ) until it was destroyed in the earthquake in 224 BC ( that incidentally also destroyed the road up to blue john mine ).We duck off to the right before the summit and head around to the edge of Rushup once more ,crossing our path to start the last bit of our figure 8 loop.Cavedale.Bwa hah hah hah. Hah .

Some of the lads had done the drop into Cavedale last year and were bigging it up a touch.Andy Minshull said " He wasnt sure , " and was "going to walk some of it ".gareth said " it's big. Let's 'ave it"
It cant be that bad . Can it ?
We skipped through some deep puddles on the way and turned left at the Pharos of Alexandria.Across open fields with undulating berms and kickers.Skids jumps and wheelies. Old school.Down to a gate and this is it. A rocky path with a wall to the left ,fast and loose ,a bit damp in places ,well sketchy.Fast . I get to the gate at the bottom and Gaz is dropping his seat some more and saying a hail mary.
That wasnt Cavedale. This is Cavedale.

Before me spread the eighth wonder of the ancient world.Scary.

Formed 350 millions of years ago from volcanic activity ,visible as now roughened columns of angular basalt,and later on, glacial meltwater coursed through to create this spectacular valley,just nice for a bit of mountainbikery on a sunny saturday.Dont damage the fossils as you go over the bars.They were n't kidding.This is one tough downhill.I didn't get too much chance to take in the view of the castle as my eyeballs were out on sticks.It's a toughie alright.I blame the tyres.The Fisher has handled everything I've thrown at it.Let's see how it does here.About a quarter down there's a couple walking up on my line so I give them a wide berth and as i go to get back in the middle I'm faced with about an 18" or so drop back onto the trail. Normally I'm not too bothered by a mere 18"er ,but as I was already hanging off the back and the 'landing' was into higgledy piggledy ,wet ,portable telly sized boulders I thought better of it .And got off.I got back on to find that I couldnt actually get going again. Ace.Yea . Tough.When I did get going it was more of the same. Big ol' rocks scuttering about under you and gaps just big enough to grab a wheel. That's more like it . I'm just getting into it as it eases off a tad and opens out for the last bit.Fast and flowing now but dont let it fool you ,the very last bit to the bottom gate is just slippy enough and techy enough to catch you out if youre not paying attention.Really good finish to a great epic ride, and a shoulder tweak I can still feel thrown in for good measure.The Fisher's got me back in one piece again.Up hill and ,er ,down Dale.Nice. I still think it needs some bigger tyres. To really test it.


Out the gate ,turn left,pub-tastic.Knackered.

For much better altogether more professional pix see;

View the route Gareth planned here:

* Eighth Wonder.Patsy Kensit.You know ,before.

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