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.
By Matt Wadsworth