Don’t forget our “Try a Trail” event at Croft on Sunday. This is perfect if you’ve not tried mountain biking or a trail before. We will be taking groups around (mixed and ladies only) and our club coach will be on hand to demonstrate a bike check and offer riding advice.
Some might say sticking a run either end of mountain bike ride is a good way to ruin a perfectly good ride- others (probably mad ones) say it actually adds to the fun. So the scene was set for for the Cirencester off road duathlon. A duathlon replacing the triathlon’s cold wet swim with one extra cold wet run!
SMTBE Day 4 PM – Whinlatter 20km 600m (Strava Estimate)
Monday afternoon we opted for a visit to the Whinlatter trail centre as a final session to our few days of epic riding in the Lakes. After a swap to hardtails for Dave and Andy, a quick bite to eat from the cafe and an essential browse of the shop (some nice Yeti’s on offer if you’re interested) we set off…. oh no, hang on, just a little more faffing while Sean replaces his hanger and reattaches his rear mech. We’re now ready and head out from the car park with the rain just holding off for a lap of the Altura South red trail.
A quick stop at the trail start for a photo opportunity sees a lady on an e-bike go bombing pass. A quick wrap up on the photos to give chase however she appears to be long gone. The trail starts nice and gradual with a fairly wide track through the trees before opening out on to a fire road. A short stint on the fire road before getting back on the single track for the first part of the climb. The trails are nicely built and are mainly hard packed surface with some small rocky sections and switchbacks taking you up.
Half way you cross another fire road and we bump into the e-bike lady and yes we all beat her to that part and even she took the fire road the whole way so not a bad achievement really considering we’re all starting to feel a bit jaded. A bit more climbing, with some tight switchbacks that almost saw Matt doing a complete 360 and we get to the top. Now starts the descents that initially have some really large rocky sections that now that it’s raining make them rather slippery and line choice that bit harder. Andy went first but wasn’t long until he was no longer rubber side down, followed closely by Dave who also decided closer inspection of the rocks was needed. After these rocky sections the trail opens up a little and starts to flow with some smaller rocky sections and the odd little drop thrown in. This brings us nicely back down to the midpoint fire road and the start of an awesome little section with a series of small table tops before leading into some berms and a really nice fast and flowy descent. A quick chat at the end to some local boys for directions on how to pedal back up so that we can give this baby another try – loved it, big grins (from me at least!). After a second run, we finish off the last small section of decent that brings up back down to the trail start.
A cross of the car park and we get to the start of the North loop. This starts with a tiny decent, like 2 seconds worth, before knuckling down to about 5kms of climbing, with a mixture of single track, fire road and a rocky technical climb that put Andy’s gear shifting to the test. On closer inspection we it became evident that the cassette on Andy’s bike was very loose which seemed like a relatively easy fix, however this proved to be fatal and sadly the end to Andy’s ride – by the freewheeling back down. Those remaining have a long section of fire road climbing that see’s Dave, Matt and Rob zoom off as though they’re on fresh legs while the rest of us take a slightly steadier pace up.
The decent on the North side starts in the forest and has some nice tight sections and turns with some drops thrown in for good measure, really fun. A little bit of a pedal though the trees brings us out to the final decent, although by this time the weather had really set in and I think we’re all just on a bit of mission to get back down, so a bit less chit chat and on to the final section. This starts in the open with a series of large berms with loose-ish, gravel surface that open out to some very large and steep drops if you were to overcook it – a little bit of the Alps in the Lake District, but not one you’d want to get wrong. The final section takes you back through the trees with a fun and fast descent that leads you back to the car park. For me, Whinlatter was a little bit like CwnCarn, but really really enjoyable and most definitely worth the visit. Still in the rain, a quick re-pack of the bikes brings to a close what can only be described as possibly some of the best riding you may ever do in the UK. Still, all good things must come to an end so what better way to wrap it all up than a pint of Cocker in the pub.
SMTBE Lakes Day 4 AM Glenderaterra Traverse – 15km 465m (Strava estimate)
Day 4 in the lakes started with a cuppa tea, hearty full English breakfast and then loading the vans for our 40 min drive to Keswick. Upon arrival the pre ride faff this time was centred around Craige’s seized forks! They were totally locked solid, with a generous dousing of spray lube and oil and a lot of pumping from Craige we managed to get a whole 10mm of slow sticky travel… ‘You’ll be fine mate’ he was assured.
We had a few pleasant miles of quiet country lanes to get the legs nicely warmed up for the effort to come. The usual route up on to valley hillside was not viable as the bridge had been washed away in the 2015 floods, but Charley had found us a little ‘sneaky’ path that took us up onto the hillside. At the top of the path we had a great view of the valley and of the trail we were going to ride, high up on the opposite very steep hillside. We set off along the trail and I was taking the opportunity of a smooth flat trail to take in the amazing view. We stopped at a junction in the trail, our path now led upwards, following a stone wall.
This trail consisted of grassy and slippery rock sections which according to our guide Charley was all rideable, so I set off determined to clean this climb. I was making good progress picking the easiest line possible, as my Cube Stereo isn’t the best tool for climbing, with a low bottom bracket and shock that won’t lock out. I got about half way up and stalled in a slippery rock garden ‘game over’, breathing hard now I decided to stop there to rest and to watch the others attempt the slippery rocks. It was good to see most attempt to ride it but like me without success, charley was up next and just proceeded to pedal straight through the rocks past me and on up to the top, at least someone cleaned it!
Regrouping at a T junction in the trail we could see the Glenderaterra Traverse to our left, Charley briefed us on what to expect …slippery technical rock sections with a sheer drop to the side in some places. At one point the trail naturally takes you towards one of those drops, but Charley went ahead so that he could guide us across the more difficult sections. The rock sections were indeed extremely slippery and I tried just to focus on the trail ahead. We now reached the piece of trail that was going to try and kill us, so Charley went ahead to physically block the left line that led off the edge. What lay before us was a rocky ledge section that looked a tad tricksy, my heart was in my mouth at one moment as Rob slipped towards the edge whilst pushing his bike across. I decided to have a crack at riding it, I only managed about 1 pedal stroke and I had to dab straight away, it was so slippery, with a couple more dabs and a bit of shuffling I was across. Charley had a go and got 3/4 across and had to dab!
With the technical steep hillside behind us the trail quickly changed to lovely narrow fast singletrack with fast flowy corners and I found myself trying to chase Dave down with Stuart in pursuit and I was soon spinning out in top gear… great fun! A large farmer’s gate interrupted our fun. All together again, Charley warned us that there could be a lot of walkers on this last part of the descent back to the vans. So we set off fingers covering brake levers, speed increased quickly on this wide fast descent with plenty of corners that progressively tightened to catch you out on the loose surface. We did well to have some fun in-between having to slow down for the walkers; I can imagine they had a few choice words for us as we sped past them. Another gate stopped us at the bottom, as we all queued up the smell of hot brakes filled the air, a great way to finish our morning riding the Glenderaterra Traverse.